REL 521.001

Self & Society

W | 1:00-3:20

PRH 210

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This seminar will investigate the construction of “the self” and “society” through specific case studies and theory. The course will use professional wrestling as a case study for exploring theories of ritual, implicit religion, functionalism, sacrifice, and capitalism.

Michael J. Altman

  • Office hours: 

    Monday, 12:30pm-1:30pm; Tuesday, 9:00am-10:00am, and by appointment.

  • (205) 348-5271
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin hangs on a cross-shaped icon high above the head of the Undertaker.


Hubert, Henri and Marcel Mauss
Sacrifice: Its Nature and Function
Chicago, 1981

Mazer, Sharon
Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle, Second Edition
Univ. of Mississippi Press, 2020

Levi, Heather
The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identitiy
Duke, 2008

Bataille, Georges
The Accursed Share, Volume I
Zone Books, 1991

Ngai, Sianne
Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgement and Capitalist Form
Harvard, 2022

Lofton, Kathryn
Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon
Univ. of California Press, 2011

Books are available at the SUPe Store and online through vendors such as

Online Readings

UA Box Readings from outside of the required texts can be found in REL {course number}'s UA Box.