Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Marguerite Nguyen, Stephanie Weiner

Major

English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis examines the topic of baseball in American literature, particularly Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir, Wait Till Next Year, Kevin Guilfoile’s book, A Drive into the Gap and W.P. Kinsella’s novel, Shoeless Joe. All three of these books, each a distinct genre, exhibit and examine the effect that the topic of baseball has on generic categorization. These commentaries are meta-generic in that the authors explore their own genre and, both directly and indirectly, discuss the constraints that they struggle to obey. For Kearns Goodwin, an effort to write a book exclusively about growing up as a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers turned into a personal memoir when she realized that her life as a fan was not distinct from her life as a member of her family and community. Baseball was so integral to her everyday life that it became inseparable from her daily routine. Guilfoile writes about his hunt for the truth behind a particular piece of memorabilia. He examines the way that baseball’s archives are a rickety system of oral histories, traditions and mythologies. In the book, he approaches everything from a stranger’s Super 8 recording to his own childhood as a collection of stories, meditating on the importance of truth to these types of memories and legends. Kinsella’s novel explores the differences between fantasy and reality. Kinsella includes reincarnated baseball players, a real life author and a narrator who shares his last name in striking magical realism. The reader is challenged to believe in baseball’s, as well as the novel’s, ability to bring magic to a quotidian reality. Ultimately, baseball as a topic transcends genre, conflating familiar oppositions such as the individual and community, the past and the present, and fantasy and reality.

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