Surfing is simultaneously a sport, a lifestyle, and an iconic part of American pop culture. It is also an ideal lens for analyzing a range of contemporary cultural processes associated with globalization. This course will introduce you to surfing as a cultural phenomenon. We will begin by learning about the history of surfing, particularly as it has become increasingly internationalized in recent decades. We will also focus on a range of specific topics: Surfing in popular culture, surf tourism, the commodification of surfing, contest culture, surfing and gender, and the production of recreational spaces.
This course will emphasize an ethnographic approach to the study of surfing. During our time in Costa Rica we will be traveling to multiple locations where surfing is a dominant activity, and we will be interacting on a daily basis with surfers from Costa Rica, the US and elsewhere. Through both guided observations and daily encounters, students will document their experiences through a series of written and visual assignments.