Good spiel, no lit

A fellow grad student is writing her dissertation on baseball, recounts Conservative English Major. He thought of baseball in literature: Bernard Malamud’s The Natural and W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe (which became Field of Dreams). But no.

She interrupted: “I’m not doing that. I’m doing Baseball. Bats are obvious phallic symbols. The balls clearly represent sperm, which comes from the ‘balls’ of men. The gloves are symbolic vaginas, which accept and then reject the sperm. The gloves are worn on the hands, indicating masturbation fantasies. It’s all very male, and has to do with discourses initiated in an attempt to exclude the feminine other by appropriating the methods and means of reproductive symbolism.”

For this she expects a doctorate in literature.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. mike from oregon says:

    This kind of reasoning(?) isn’t just sad, it’s pathetic. One of the reasons and ways that feminism has gotten a bad reputation.

  2. This isn’t exactly or groundbreaking. I had somebody describe baseball to me in those terms back in 1997 (right before I got married). I thought the theory was nuts then.

  3. Obviously, the person has never actually watched the game – the balls go into the gloves, not the bats 🙂

    And I wonder just how the infield fly rule fits into this???

  4. Mad Scientist says:

    For this she should expect not to be taken seriously. As should the dumbass who approved of this for a thesis.

    And people wonder why Literature majors are not taken seriously?

  5. In bowling, a large black ball (representing oversized African American genitalia) is sent to strike down a number of helpless white pins (representing white women) or to miss and end up in the gutter (representing the gutter) by Anglo men who drink beer and smoke cigars (representing white male privilege). The men then place the balls into bags (representing the criminal justice system), take them home, and watch the news while eating Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee directly from the can (representing the fact that their mothers have died and no one cooks for them now).

    My doctoral thesis will be defended at the Jolly Time Lanes at 8p.m. next Thursday. Be sure to bring your ridiculously small pencils, a spare scorecard, and a carton of smokes. It will be league night, so don’t forget to dress up in your team colors.

  6. charles austin says:

    Sadly, she’ll probably get it.

    But I will note that occassionally balls do come out of bats (Sammy Sosa, Graig Nettles, etc.).

    I wonder what she might do with bush league, hit and run, getting to first base, second base, etc., the mound, the batter’s box, switch hitters, the slider, and magic numbers. Not to mention all the colorful names players have had over the years.

    Sigh.

  7. So are softball players gender traitors?

    For more PhD phun, look up keywords of your choice at

    http://www.umi.com/umi/dissertations/

    Looking up “football,” I found:

    “‘You signed the line’: Collegiate student-athletes’ perceptions of autonomy”

    “How do master football coaches develop team confidence? A study of strategies and conceptualizations in the psychology of collective-efficacy”

    “On the block: Race, gender and power in the NFL draft”

    “An exploratory analysis of the relationship between higher education and television: A focus on big-time college sports”

    “1-2-3 kick: An examination of the use of an audible rhythm pattern on kicking performance”

    “Rooting for laundry: An examination of the creation and maintenance of a sport fan identity”

    “Selling the drama: A content-analysis of prescribed storylines in ABC’s ‘Monday Night Football'”

    “‘It’s great to be a Florida Gator’: Fans negotiating ideologies of race, gender, and power”

    “A rhetorical analysis of women’s role in American sport culture: The case of the football coach’s wife”

    The most interesting find was “Jinxed,” a 72 page poetic sequence:

    http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations/fullcit/3106873

    ” The sequence of poems recreates the character of Petrarch’s Laura in the Little Redhead Girl, Charlie Brown’s first love … [it] ends with Charlie Brown after he has missed kicking Lucy’s football, falling to earth literally and symbolically.”

    What jobs will these scholars get? Will the NFL have room for them?

  8. Jack Tanner says:

    I’d hate to see what happens when you try to get to third base with her.

  9. Sometimes a bat is just a bat?

    I agree, this is the kind of thing that gives:
    feminism
    literature studies
    studies of “leisure activities”
    a bad name.

    I suspect a goodly percentage of the population would roll their eyes upon having her symbology of baseball explained to them.

  10. …which accept and then reject the sperm…

    Huh? Wait a minute. If they’re rejecting the sperm, how come I had to use condoms for so long? Dammit, I knew I should have brought my glove!

  11. I wonder: what are the standards of evidence for defending a thesis in English literature? In the sciences, one cites experiments. In math, one creates (deductive) proofs. And in literature?

    I bet that one mainly cites “authorities” ie, various well-known English professors.

  12. Does this girl seriously think she’s the first person to try to render a sport as a sexual metaphor? The baseball thing goes back at least to the 70’s.

    But you know, we play sports using balls because they are spherical and they roll better than cubes or pyramids. If you’re going to hit a ball, a stick is a better choice than a big leaf or a hula hoop. Catching a moving ball is naturally done with your hands, as opposed to your mouth or your toes, and a glove is just a way of making your hand bigger.

    Somebody point me in this girl’s direction. If she’s going to be spewing out neo-fem polemics, she needs to at least learn to be more subtle about it. My god.

  13. My wife did her undergrad in English, specializing in American authors, and did her thesis on Walt Whitman, after doing lots of papers on Hawthorne, Twain, and other “dead white guys”. Of course, she did this in Shanghai, which is where you have to go to get a good university-level education in English literature nowadays.

  14. Lots of low-level hostility here about college lit profs. Wonder what the source of that is?

    It’s fair game to question the soundness of a dissertation by looking at its methodology and the quality of its evidence. But it’s shooting ducks in a pond to cite dissertation titles and then go “pooh-pooh.”

    Given the time, money and energy expended on football in the United States, I see good reason for serious study of the subject and its fans.

  15. “Given the time, money and energy expended on football in the United States, I see good reason for serious study of the subject and its fans.”

    So do I–in departments where people specialize in psychology, sociology, economics…not literature, for heaven’s sake.

  16. Mad Scientist says:

    Lots of low-level hostility here about college lit profs. Wonder what the source of that is?

    Well, put me down for some high level hostility. Anyone stupid enough to think that this constitutes serious scholarly research ought to have their head examined.

    And to think that this goes on in our centers of “higher learning” makes me want to puke. If it is a state school, the idiot professor should be dismissed. If this is a private school, the BOT should move to fire the jackass for demeaning the reputation of the school.

    No wonder people with humanities do not get taken seriously.

  17. I was fortunate enough to have some excellent lit teachers in college, after learning through word-of-mouth who the good teachers were and who was teaching post-modernist crap.

    I do recall, however, one professor who apparently got roped into teaching the mandatory “Multiculturalism In Literature” class. As you can imagine, the texts we read were complete trash, but supposedly valuable because they were fringe minority authors. Clue: they’re fringe because they suck!

    Homework and tests consisted of summarizing the text assigned and randomly speculating about it. There was no way to objectively test people on the material because it was incoherent. Basically, if you showed up, you got an A. The teacher seemed mildly embarrassed and spent a lot of classtime shooting the breeze about unrelated literary subjects.

  18. “For this she expects a doctorate in literature.”
    For this I expect she will not only get a doctorate in literature, but also an easy hire and a fast track to the top of some sorry “English” department.
    -TJ

  19. And I wonder just how the infield fly rule fits into this???

    It’s a Catholic hegemonic plot to assure that seed is not spilled upon the ground but goes into the glove, err vagina, as planned.

  20. I wonder how she’ll address the issues of scratching and spitting.

  21. Heck this doesn’t surprise me one bit. When I got my BA in Anthropology from Berkeley there was a woman getting her MA with a thesis on cornrows.

    Yes, cornrows.

  22. Richard Brandshaft says:

    What’s the problem? Sounds like normal literary criticism to me.

    It’s OK as long as you don’t mistake it for anything real. Here’s another one: The end of the 4th Season of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” showed Kal-El exists in Buffy’s time line. Remember when Buffy ripped Adam’s heart out? Rielly thought Adam was powered by uranium. But the only power source that glows green like that is kryptonite. Can I get a Ph.D. for noticing that?

    What is a problem is psychologists, who do mistake things just as silly for something real.

Trackbacks

  1. Way Off Bass says:

    The reason I’m going to major in music

    . . . is because I have too much self-respect to do what it takes to be an English Lit major.

  2. Half Past Drunk, Heading Toward Hungover

    Time was, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at this chick’s dissertation topic, other than to snarkily note that it lacked a certain je ne ce quois in terms of originality. “Bats as phalloi!” I would have sniffed to my…

  3. Half Past Drunk, Heading Toward Hungover

    Time was, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash at this chick’s dissertation topic, other than to snarkily note that it lacked a certain je ne ce quois in terms of originality. “Bats as phalloi!” I would have sniffed to my…

  4. Where is it?

    First Up… The Carnival of the Capitalists is up. So not only is it not news until someone with a column-writing contract reports it, but that column has now been syndicated to a couple of sites and linked by Neal…

  5. Grad Student seeking help

    Here’s an interesting project for anyone with some spare time and the desire to help a struggling young grad student complete her doctoral thesis. Get on your computer and google up porn websites to illustrate each sentence in this paragraph….

  6. Mediocrity in education, part II

    See, this is why I will never have a graduate degree in English. I’m just not thinking loftily enough, or even stupid enough.

  7. Majikthise says:

    English lit and rap

    Tightly Wound has harsh words for a certain dissertation topic. No doubt she suspects that the candidate has failed to keep it real. But compare: She interrupted: “I’m not doing that. I’m doing Baseball. Bats are obvious phallic symbols. The