Syllabus: Baseball and Writing, Spring 1996 

ENGL 4336
Baseball and Writing
Spring 1996
Tim Morris

REQUIRED TEXTS: Mark Harris, Bang the Drum Slowly (Nebraska); Ring Lardner, You Know Me Al (Illinois); Bette Bao Lord, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (HarperTrophy); Eric Rolfe Greenberg, The Celebrant (Nebraska); John R. Tunis, Keystone Kids (Harcourt Brace); John Holway, Voices From the Great Black Baseball Leagues (Da Capo); Robert Coover, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. (Plume) 

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Attendance is required. You may, however, miss two meetings without penalty. If you miss a third meeting you will fail the course. In addition, you may miss only one of the five discussion meetings after Spring Break without failing the course. 

GRADING AND REQUIREMENTS: The first paper (paper #0) is ungraded. The highest grade you can make: on paper #1 is Z; on paper #2 is X; on paper #3 is D; on paper #4 is C; on paper #5 is B. These five numbered and graded papers constitute a ladder; you cannot fall backwards but may miss a rung. No paper may move you up more than a single rung. Missing or late papers will cause you to miss a rung.

The final project, due on 10 May, offers a final chance to move up a last rung. This project is a non-fiction writing exercise: based on your whole experience in this course, attend a baseball or softball game and write a game story. If possible, include documentation of the game, like a box or line score from a newspaper, or a scoresheet. Tell the story of the game as well as you can; make it a narrative; tell, if it suits you, more about what is around or outside the on-field events than about the plays and scoring.
All papers must be printed. Exception: I encourage e-mail submissions; these I can (usually) download and print myself. 

DROP POLICY: The drop date is 12 April. Even at that point (and any time before) I will drop you with a W if you request it. I will never drop anyone at any time for any reason simply of my own accord, unless they never attend class even once. 


Wed 17 Jan: introductions and syllabus 

Mon 22 Jan: paper #0 due: Preconceptions. In three pages, describe what you expect from this class, what drove you to take it, what you think and feel about baseball--and/or, writing. 

Wed 24 Jan: meeting to discuss paper #0 


Mon 29 Jan: The Game, the Rules, the Theory 

Wed 31 Jan: Some Basic History 

Mon 5 Feb: Urban Spaces (Outside): Reading the City from Where It Plays 

Wed 7 Feb: Urban Spaces (Inside): The Ballpark as Hollow Hotel 

Mon 12 Feb: The Strike in Image and Ideology 

Wed 14 Feb: Texts and Genres: Not Just a Kid's Story 

Mon 19 Feb: Nationalism and Exceptionalism: Baseball as American Icon 

Wed 21 Feb: Assimilation: Everybody Wants to Play for the Yankees 

Mon 26 Feb: "Forget it": Images of Spanish Speakers in English Texts 

Wed 28 Feb: The English Language Community: Finding Center Field 

Mon 4 March: "Not Fairy Love": Constructing the Heterosexual 

Wed 6 March: "A Rainy Road Trip": Constructing the Homosexual  

Mon 11 March: Meritocracy and Managed Competition: The Historical View 

Wed 13 March: Hitting the Bell Curve: Meritocracy, Literature, and Social Theory 

18-22 March Spring Break 

Mon 25 March: Paper #1 due: Harris, Bang the Drum Slowly and Lardner, You Know Me Al. Compare! 

Wed 27 March: Discussion of Paper #1. 

Mon 1 April: Paper #2 due: Lord, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. 

Wed 3 April: Discussion of Paper #2. 

Mon 8 April: Paper #3 due: Greenberg, The Celebrant and Tunis, Keystone Kids. Compare! 

Wed 10 April: Discussion of Paper #3. 

Mon 15 April: Paper #4 due: Holway, Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues. 

Wed 17 April: Discussion of Paper #4. 

Mon 22 April: Paper #5 due: Coover, The Universal Baseball Association 

Mon 29 April: last meeting. Course Evaluations.  

Fri 10 May: Final Project Due.