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Title:Beyond the outfield: Baseball fiction and historical fantasy, 1864-present
Author(s):Tienou, Debora N
Director of Research:Loughran, Trish
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Loughran, Trish
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Byrd, Jodi; Freeburg, Christopher; Somerville, Siobhan
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Beyond the Outfield: Baseball Fiction and Historical Fantasy, 1864-Present considers baseball’s imperial and racist past and traces the ways in which fiction from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries imagines alternative possibilities within this history. My goal is, in part, to materially interrogate the mythologies and histories surrounding baseball, which has long been imagined as a uniquely American sport, thought to be invented by a U.S. citizen (Abner Doubleday) in Cooperstown, N.Y. As such, the game is read as a democratic agent of e pluribus unum, a practice of citizenship that can help turn immigrants into Americans while also helping to Americanize foreign territories. Beyond the Outfield explores this history by amassing a thick archive of cultural materials such as pamphlets, films, museum exhibitions, and newspapers, and placing these materials alongside contemporary novels which grapple with baseball’s official history, imagining alternatives to this official history that seek to move beyond baseball as a tool of conquest and control. As examples of a genre I call historical fantasy, each one presents a different version of the history we think we know and illuminates parts of history not frequently imagined. While baseball’s official history puts the United States and its seemingly democratic values at its center, works of historical fantasy, I argue, present a way to figuratively unmake empire’s becoming so as to have it become in a different way. My work, then, is as much about the production of memory and countermemory as it is baseball. My project draws on scholarship that explores the construction of racial memory and countermemory, allowing me to focus on pivotal times and places in baseball’s long imperial history (from the Civil War, to the dismantling of Indian Territory at the moment of allotment, to desegregation in the 1940s, among others) in order to trouble the dominant narratives of baseball’s—and the U.S.’s—official history.
Issue Date:2019-03-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Debora Tienou
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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