ENG584: Baseball: the American Narrative


A. Bartlett Giamatti, former president of Yale and commissioner of Major League Baseball, believed that this game is "the plot of the story of our national life." In this course we will look at how baseball reflects, embodies and illuminates modern American history, culture, politics and myth. We will also examine the game itself as a narrative - one that unfolds and reveals and surprises; one that demands close reading to understand its nuances, symbols and structure. And we will look at how various artists have used baseball as a central metaphor in their fiction, nonfiction, poetry and film. Texts will be chosen from the works of Dubus, Malamud, Updike, Kinsella, Hall, Giamatti, Kearns-Goodwin, Moore and Exley. Possible films: Ken Burns' Baseball series, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. Students will write a number of short papers and complete a final project.