LIT256 : Field Of Dreams: American Culture and Sport

Convener(s): Dr Duco van Oostrum


Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course Convenor.

General Information

What happens when the action on the sports field is transformed into narrative? In this module, we will examine the narratives of sport as told by literary authors, sports journalists, and the athletes themselves (usually with the help of a ghost-writer). In Field of Dreams, the mythological athletes only exist on the baseball field and can’t cross the magical boundaries. Yet by being made subjects of a written or cinematic text, they enter new narrative possibilities of character, race, nationality and gender. We will look and read a wide range of narratives of American sports, such Bissinger’s classic Friday Night Lights, Dennis Rodman’s all-revealing Bad As I Wanna Be, and the story of a year in a women’s high school basketball team. The module will focus on particular narrative features of sports narratives, and also the particulars of major American team sports, baseball, football, and basketball. We will also examine in detail narratives of American women’s sports. Another major focus will be racial narratives and often racialized narratives of American sport. Even though the module might have the appearance of the ultimate sports fan site, it takes a critical look at constructions of sports narratives and the various components, which dominate society in interesting ways. We will examine various genres of writing, literature, new journalism, reporting, autobiography, documentary, and variations. The module could be of particular use to aspiring journalists.


You will be taught in two one-hour seminars each week, in which you will be expected to lead discussions, read out work, and engage in debate. Additionally, there will be a film viewing session Fridays from 1-3pm on the many weeks specified, and you may also suggest films. As an additional bonus, we will have visits and field trip.


  1. Invididual 250-word weekly responses and/or bulletin board contributions (10%) (best 7 count).
  2. Sports Project (25%) about individual athlete or an entire team. What kind of sports writing has been generated around this subject? Use of web-sites, archives, etc.
  3. 1,000 word close reading (25%): Critical analysis and close reading of a passage that has to be linked to another text/film of the first 5 weeks of the course.
  4. 2,000-word essay (40%): Research Essay

Contact Details

Dr Duco van Oostrum 0114 222 8468

Information last changed: Thursday 07th of April 2016 :: 01:16:23 PM (BST)

may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK