Popular Literature (Sports Literature) 289 - Sample Syllabus

Course Policies

Office: 425 Collins Classroom Center
Office Phone: 346-4333

Email: rsirabia@uwsp.edu

Office Hrs:

 Return to Reading/Writing Schedule Page

Course Objective


Requirements/Grading Policy



Course Objective

This course surveys the function and meaning of sport in literature and society by examining mythic, philosophical, psychological, realistic, and cultural dimensions of sport.  During the semester will examine sport as an appropriate subject for literature as well as the connection between sport and literature by looking at fiction, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction.  Our investigation will naturally lead us to basic questions about the meaning of sport and about sport as a human and cultural phenomenon.  No one can doubt the central role of sport in our society today, and even throughout the world, so it makes sense to explore why this is the case through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing.  Why are we so interested in, obsessed with, and attracted to sport?  It will be helpful for us to have a basic understanding of play theory when discussing sport, specifically the features of games (a type of play).  Most notably, games are artificial constructions that enhance competition through rules to offer equal opportunity, challenges, fairness, and merit-based reward (e.g.,winning).  The appeal of sport is more than its entertainment value. Of course, the most notable sport cliché--life is like a game, a mircocosm of life (or is life a game?)--underscores the significance of sport for us. The history and techniques of sports journalism, the most prominent type of writing about sport, will also be discussed.

Along these lines, the course is organized according to specific themes: Philosophy of Play, The Moment and Glory of Sport, Sport and Life, Race and Sport, and Sport and Gender.  Because these themes are broad, there are numerous subthemes that fall under them we will pursue . Guiding questions for the course:  In what ways does sport does mirror society? In what ways is it different from society or daily life? 


Sports in Literature, 2nd. ed.,  Bruce Emra (anthology)
In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle, Madeline Blais
Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand


Texts can be purchased at the university bookstore


Requirements/Grading Policy

You should be prepared to discuss all of the reading assignments for the days they are scheduled in class.  It is useful to mark key passages or scenes that point to central concerns or ideas in the works that are read.  Readings not in the above texts will be available online or given as handouts.  It is the student's responsibility to read online assignments and obtain handouts.  

Assignments due on a given day must be submitted during the class period.  Having an assignment finished but not printed out and ready to hand in is late.  Late assignments will be accepted one day after the original due date, but will lose one letter grade or the point equivalent.  After that, no credit will be given.  Assignments due electronically must be received by the day and time specified or the above late will policy will also apply.  For any special circumstances, please contact the instructor ahead of time.  Also, no incompletes will given in the course. 

There will be weekly writing assignments, quizzes, and two examinations (a midterm and a final).  Grades will be determined using the percentages below; they are not based simply on effort or my subjective opinion. The weight of these is as follows:  

Assignments*         20%
Quizzes* 15%
Midterm exam  30% 
Final exam   35%

*To be determined by the following point scale:  A=100-90, B=89-80, C=79-70, D=69-60.  Please save all written work until after grades are received.  It is the student's responsibility to produce assignments handed back if questions about grades arise.



Regular attendance is your responsibility and is essential for success in the course.  As stated in the UWSP Course Catalog, you cannot "cut" classes.  Any student who misses two weeks of class (six days for three-days-a-week classes; four days for classes meeting twice a week) may fail the course.  Students are responsible for all work missed due to excused absences; therefore, it is the student's responsibility to determine work that needs to be completed and to follow up with all logistical requirements. Note:  It may not always be possible to makeup missed quizzes.  Please refrain from looking at cell phones

during class; also use the washroom or drinking fountain before or after class, not during class.


Plagiarism (from the Latin "to kidnap")

You will be expected to do your own work throughout the course.  Intentionally or unintentionally passing off the ideas, words, or sentences of others (e.g., published authors or other students) as your own is plagiarism, which will result in failing the plagiarized assignment or the course.  Please review the University policy regarding plagiarism. 

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Popular Literature (Sports) 289

Reading/Writing Schedule

Dr. Sirabian
Office: 425 Collins Classroom Center
Office Phone: 346-4333
Email: rsirabia@uwsp.edu

Office Hours: TBA

To Course Policies Page

Assignments may be modified as necessary.  Weekly assignments are not all listed here; they will be given in class/by email.
It will be useful to read the biographical introductions for each author we study. 

Readings will be assigned from our textbook and passed out (Handouts).  Handouts are marked on the syllabus; all other readings are from our textbook.
 SL=Sports in Literature

Meeting Days


Meeting Days


Sept.    05 Introduction Oct.  31  "Teeth" (Handout); "In the Pocket" (SL)
                07 Reading/Writing about Literature Nov.  02 "Surfers at Santa Cruz"(Handout)
             10 Reading/Writing about Literature//Website--"The Most Dangerous Game"

We will continue to discuss the story
on the 12th and 14th.

Assign Due
                    05 Quiz

Friday Night Lights,
Pilot episode--NBC TV Series
             12 Philosophy of Play

"The Nature and Significance of Play" (Handout)
                    07 Friday Night Lights--NBC TV

"The Basketball Game" (Handout); From Rabbit, Run (SL)
             14 "The Structure and Classification of Games" (Handout)                     09 Sports Journalism:
"Johnson is Everywhere . . . "; "Great Day for Baseball . . ." (SL)
             17 Review

Current Issues in Sports
                    12 Quiz

"The Unnatural Natural" (Handout)

             19 The Moment and Glory of Sport

"Eight-Oared Crew" (SL)
                    14 "The Unnatural Natural"

Race and Sport

"Baseball's Great Experiment . . ." (SL)/From Boys of Summer (Handout)
             21 Quiz

"The Four-Minute Mile"; "The Sprinters" (SL)
               16 From Boys of Summer (Handout)/
Major Taylor (Handout)
             24 "The Sprinters"

Jump Shot"; "400-Meter

Freestyle"; "In the Swim" (SL)
                    19 Assignment Due

"Champion of the World" (Handout)/
"Stop the Fight!" (SL)
             26 From Bang the Drum Slowly (Handout);"Pitcher" (SL) "                     21 "The Dawn Runner" (Handout--N. Scott Momaday)
             28 "Driving Lessons " (Handout);
"Instruction in the Art ('Taking a Boy Fishing')" (SL)
                    23 Thanksgiving Break
Oct    01 Review

Current Issues in Sports
                    26 Review

Current Issues in Sports
             03 Seabiscuit                     28

Sport and Gender

"She's Here. She's Queer. She's Fired" (Handout)

             05 Quiz

                     29 "Doe Season" (Handout)
             08 Seabiscuit (Presentations) Dec. 03

In These Girls . . .

         10 Seabiscuit (Presentations)                     05 Quiz

In These Girls . . .
             12 Seabiscuit (Movie)                     07 In These Girls . . .
             15 Seabiscuit (Movie)/ Take-home Quiz                     10 In These Girls . . .
             17 Seabiscuit (Movie)/Take-home quiz due at the beginning of the period                     12 "Playing Pool" (Handout)
             19 Seabiscuit--Discussion                     14 Review for Final Examination
             22 "The 7-10 Split" (SL)                     Final Examination (Please, No early or makeup exams): TBA

Office hours: TBA
             24 "The Thrill of the Grass" (SL)
             26 Midterm--Please, No Early Exams
             29 Sport and Life

"Eighty-Yard Run" (Handout)


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