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Sport in Literature
Kin 378G(1996-97)

Dr. Don Morrow
Faculty of Kinesiology, The University of Western Ontario
Thames Hall #4162 661-4128
Tues 10:00-11:50, Thurs 11:00-11:50

Calendar Course Description

Sport in Literature is a study of sport as portrayed through short stories, poems, essays, and works of fiction/non-fiction whose central focus is sport. The principal aim of the course is to examine the nature and development of sport through a variety of literary sources. A secondary objective of the course is to develop critical thinking and feeling skills about the role and significance of sport in societies and cultures. Literature is a truth about the human condition, not the truth (how can we know the difference?)


  1. Through the Smoky End Boards:Canadian Poetry About Sports and Games. By Kevin and Sean Brooks, Editors. Polestar, pbk $16.95 (not used last year), 1996
  2. That Sign of Perfection: From Bandy Legs to Beer Legs: Poems and Stories on the Game of Hockey. By John B Lee, editor. Black Moss Press, pbk $16.95 (not used last year), 1995.
  3. Shoeless Joe, by W.P Kinsella, Ballantine, pbk $6.99, 1982.
  4. The Old Man and the Sea, Collier, pbk. $12.00, 1986.
  5. King Leary, by Paul Quarrington, Bantam, pbk. $12.95,1987.
  6. The Universal Baseball Association, Henry J. Waugh, Prop. By Rober Coover, Random House, pbk., 1977.
  7. Golf in the Kingdom. By Michael Murphy, Penguin Arkana, pbk. $15.99, 1994. (not used last year)
  8. The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon. By W.O. Mitchell, McLelland and Stewart, $18.00 (?might be in pbk and cheaper), 1993 (not used last year).
  9. A River Runs Through It. By Norman MacLean, Pocket-Simon and Schuster, pbk. $6.99, 1992 (not used last year)

**There may be different editions of these books; however, in class, these are the editions to which I will be referring in terms of page numbers etc.

Class Format and Expectations:

This course is more akin to an English course in style of presentation of material and there is a lot of reading material that must be completed during the course; it is impossible to cram for the final exam. Literature of any kind is about the human condition expressed in written form. Thus, unlike conventional science or fact-based courses, there are no "wrong" points of view or interpretations or answers. Even though class size may be larger than optimum, the format will be discussion-based and you will have to talk. My expectation is that each student has read the material assigned before the class; discussion and analysis proceeds from that assumption.

Assignments and Grading:

  1. Film Analysis (15%): Analyze a quality film, of your choice, pertaining to sport or a sport theme. Your selection must be approved by me. Guidelines will be distributed in class. Due: Friday January 24, 1997.
  2. Mid-term Exam (20%): Essay style exam; Date: Tuesday, February 18, 1997.
  3. Group Analysis of Lee's That Sign of Perfection (25%). In goups of 2, you will be asked to devise a method of analysis to interpret Lee's collection of sporting poetry and to submit a written report detailing your analysis. Due: Thursday March 27, 1997.
  4. Final Examination (40%): Essay format written during the final exam period.

Course Themes:

We will be discussing sport literature in terms of broad themes rather than by literary genre. Readings for each section will be delineated well in advance of each topical area:

  1. Introduction, overview and examples
  2. Fantasy (Shoeless Joe)
  3. Film and literature (Specific film to be chosen by class vote)
  4. Aesthetics (The Old Man and the Sea)
  5. The Participant (The Black Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon)
  6. The Spectator
  7. Exhilaration and Love (A River Runs Through It)
  8. Sport and Life (Golf in the Kingdom)
  9. Humour (King Leary).
  10. Death and Dying
  11. Ritual, Religion and Myth (The Universal Baseball Association)

Dr Don Morrow,
Professor,Faculty of Health Sciences
& Educational Development Office,
The University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario, CANADA
N6A 3K7
email: donmor@julian.uwo.ca
Fax (519)661-2008

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