Skip to content

English 1

Course Theme

Professor Hurst’s English 1 has a theme: Extreme Sports. These are sports in which the risk of major injury or death is a constant statistical reality.

This doesn’t mean we just spend time reading about extreme athletes and their sports, the main point of the class is to examine the ethics of participating in such sports, to think about why people may be drawn to such sports, and within these sports, to examine controversies, values, and possible benefits that have implications for us all.


What are some of the sports we read about? These are just a few examples:

  • Free Solo Climbing: Climbing without ropes or safety equipment.
  • Free Climbing: Using ropes and safety equipment only to protect against falls (not to help climb)
  • BASE Jumping: Jumping with a parachute from fixed objects or cliffs. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span (bridges), and Earth (cliffs or rock walls).
  • Wingsuit Flying: A form of skydiving that allows one to glide as one falls. It can be combined with BASE jumping to create a more risky sport.
  • Free-skiing or Free-riding: These are ski/snowboard sports that range from freestyle skiing/boarding with tricks and jumps to more extreme backcountry skiing/boarding outside prepared or marked trails.
  • Ski-BASE Jumping: That third bullet point, but on skis.
  • High Altitude Mountaineering or Alpine Climbing: Ascending 8000m or taller mountains.


All texts for the class are accessed through an online annotation app called Perusall. The only required text is available in the app for $17.99. All other required reading are free OEI texts accessed in the app or online news or magazine articles. Some articles fall behind the New York Times paywall, but there is a workaround.