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Basketball: A Cultural History

Christoph Ribbat, University of Paderborn

Instead of focusing on basketball as a cultural practice (studying layups, dunks, pick-up games, etc.), my book explores interrelations between high culture on the one hand and basketball on the other. Discussing Playground Era intellectuals Bill Bradley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Edgar Wideman and others, I aim to contribute to a discourse wider than the terrain of sports enthusiasm. I hope to create a more nuanced picture of the purported crisis of American intellectual life in a time of mass culture crassness (which professional basketball appears to be emblematic of). In contrast, my study shows how the game produced its own intellectuals and its own specific and multi-dimensional critiques of larger social and cultural issues.

John F. Kennedy Institute