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ENGLISH 90Q: Sports Writing

Stanford women's volleyball team on the court. Eric Miller.

Course Description

How do we write about sports? How do we write well when we do it? In what ways do our sports, competitions, and leisure activities reflect personal and collective beliefs about wellness, nature, the individual, and the society? To what end are those reflections cultivated and sustained? In this seminar, we will study and practice the many ways that creative writers frame, and even critique, an interest in athleticism, beauty, spectatorship, and achievement. We will look at and beyond the tropes and clichés of sports writing. From regional fandom to the single adventurer, boxing and baseball to cricket and table tennis, creative writers continue to mine a rich vein of “sports writing.” In doing so, they demonstrate the creative and formal adaptability required to write with excellence about any subject matter, and under the circumstances of any subjectivity. Throughout the quarter, we will read a wide range of creative writing about sports by popular writers, literary authors, athletes, and journalists. We will discuss essays, book excerpts, testimonials, stories, and pieces of journalism. A variety of creative prompts and critical exercises will foster your understanding and appreciation of literature, as well as your growth as a creative writer.

Meet the Instructor: John Evans

John Evans

John W. Evans is the author of four books, as well as prose and poetry published widely. His essay, “The Polish Prince,” about his great-grandmother’s love of pro wrestling, was a finalist for the Missouri Review’s Editor’s Prize. He has been celebrated as a “favorite professor” by the women’s basketball, water polo, and volleyball teams, as well as the Knight and DCI Fellows.