Harry Ransom Center showcases exhibition on sports literature

Gefei Liu

Students interested in the intersection of sports and literature have an opportunity this summer to study works of athletic literary achievment at the Harry Ransom Center until August.

The exhibition, Literature and Sport, contains almost 150 works of literature on the subject of sports by famous writers and literary critics. The pieces are categorized by different games, such as baseball, boxing and bullfighting, and each sport has its own exhibition hall. Works on exhibition include those of Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Norman Mailer among othes.

Megan Barnard, assistant director for acquisitions and administration at the Harry Ransom Center, said the exhibition showcases not only the mechanics of athleticism, but also the deeper connotations of sportsmanship and the human body. 

“It demonstrates how writers have used sport as a backdrop upon which to examine broader issues related to human nature, personal struggle and the various complexities of life,” Barnard said. 

Barnard said she has already been contacted by one faculty member who will bring his class down to the center to see the exhibition in the fall.

Associate professor of English Coleman Hutchison said the exhibition will be a boon to his students in the fall when he teaches a signature course on the “Literature of Sports.” The exhibit will provide the materials for the class, Hutchison said.

“What’s most compelling about the literature of sport is its diversity,” Hutchison said. “Broad arrays of writers have taken up various sports in their fiction, poetry and essays. That diversity is something that the Ransom Center exhibition represents beautifully.” 

Associate professor of English Daniel Birkholz, who will share the teaching duty for the “Literature of Sports” class, said his only issue with the exhibit was that it was too short.

“My only complaint with the HRC exhibit is that it is going to be taken down too soon for Prof. Hutchison and I to have our fall semester students attend it,” Birkholz said.

Nathan Kinsman, a visitor of the exhibition and training specialist in the College of Natural Sciences, has been a die-hard baseball fan for more than a decade. He said the exhibition provides primary sources on baseball, different from TV, and that’s what draws him.

“The literature itself gives a real insight into people’s feelings, not just scores on TV, and the literature get us inside the feeling of how we interpret the perception of the game,” Kinsman said.