English | Projects in Reading & Writing: America's Game
W170 | 29536 | Neal

TOPIC:	        America’s Game: Questioning Baseball and Nationalism

29536		MWF		1:25P – 2:15P		SB 131

Baseball is America’s game. “It has the snap, go, fling of the
American atmosphere,” wrote the poet Walt Whitman in 1889. But what
does this close connection between a nation and a game really mean?
Were the two, the nation and baseball, always so closely aligned?
And does that closeness close off certain possibilities for the
nation? This section will question the status of baseball as
America’s pastime. First, we’ll proceed through a historical
investigation of two signature moments in the history of baseball
and the American republic: the Civil War and the Civil Rights
Movement. We could say that both baseball and the modern nation were
born out of the Civil War. Similarly, Jack Robinson, by crossing the
racial barrier in baseball almost 10 years before those famous
events in Montgomery, ushered in a new era in American history. We
will try to understand these two moments and what they mean for us
today. We’ll also consider the divergent path of the All-American
Girls Professional Baseball League. Why did that league come into
being in the late 1940s and why did it fail in the 50s? How can we
understand the connection between the AAGPBL and Jack Robinson’s
struggles in the National League? Secondly, we’ll look at the status
of heroes in American culture through the lens of baseball and its
pantheon of heroes. Here, you’ll perform your own original research
into one figure from baseball’s history as we try to piece together
the answers to questions about heroism and masculinity, race,
gender, and sexuality among a host of other issues. Finally, we’ll
look at some questions and concerns surrounding the game and the
nation today. Again, you’ll be working on your own original topic in
this final unit, but we’ll be after the meaning of things like
steroids, the rise in the numbers of Hispanic players, the export of
the game of baseball to other nations and its status as an Olympic
sport. Or we might ask questions like how do we understand the
connection between biotechnology and athletics? What is the
significance of existence of softball? Why haven’t women played in
the major leagues? How has sports reporting changed and affected the
game and culture at large? This course will challenge you to think
about things we often take for granted, to perform original research
into topics of your choosing, and to write analytically about the
meaning of baseball and America.