A Semi-Scripted Syllabus
Naysayers would describe wrestling as fixed or fake. However, this academic duo prefer the term semi-scripted stunt show. Professional wrestling is comprised of athletes who defy the limits of the human body on a nightly basis while maintaining an improvisational level most actors strive to achieve. In this way, wrestling is not all that different from the academic discipline. In the squared circle of the classroom, faculty enter ready to engage in a highly choreographed dance with their students. While we may anticipate certain questions or carefully plan out interactions, things can change on a dime and we are forced to adapt to the moment. These mental gymnastics are an endeavor equal to the greatest feat of strength.
In honor of the magic of improvisation in the classroom and the wrestling ring, we present the following syllabus, knowing full well that the best laid plans will always be turned on their head, and at least in the classroom, the performance will be better for it.
Talkin' 'bout Hard Times: The Philosophy and Physiology of Sports Entertainment
Utilizing Professional Wrestling, students will explore philosophical issues of authority, power, reality, ethics, and the role of sport in culture while examining the machine that is the human body. This course will additionally cover basic concepts of Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Nutrition through the lens of the wrestling superstars. Analysis of finishing maneuvers and injuries will immerse students in the musculoskeletal system; human nutrition topics will be explored in the context of diet and exercise training regimens; while the nervous system and higher brain functions will be probed through the consequences of brain/spinal injury and sleep quality. Finally, we will engage students in discussions of the aesthetic properties of performance, the dynamics and ethics of intergender sports (combat and otherwise), and the rhetoric and politics of the sport, among other themes.