Every once in a while, we at C-VILLE feel the need to mock the accomplishments of the only people more eggheady than writers: academics. Fortunately, UVA offers no shortage of exhibits A through Z in the case of C-VILLE v. Nerds. This year, there were 92 masters and doctoral dissertations published by degree candidates, but in separating the impenetrable wheat from the inscrutable chaff, we stumbled across a few that seemed astoundingly esoteric. Newly designated sociology Ph.D. Michael J. Hightower’s 374-pager, “Inventing tradition: Cowboy sports in a postmodern age,” rose to the top.
Will cowboys trade in Stetsons for black berets in the postmodern age? We’ll never know.
Among other goals, Hightower’s abstract promises to compare and contrast the so-called “cowboy sports” (rodeo stuff, though the thought of basketball with lassoes is briefly compelling) with other extreme sports and explore their relation to “postmodern American culture.” We are a bit curious as to what makes cowboy sports postmodern—buncha cowboys sittin’ around, deconstructin’ paradigms with a quiet dignity—but that question must go unanswered, because this is one dissertation we ain’t reading.
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