5 course suggestions for Whittier College's new Institute for Baseball Studies
Thanks to Whittier College, students can now study baseball right alongside English and history. That's right -- the home of higher learning has teamed with the Baseball Reliquary to create the "Institute for Baseball Studies, the first humanities-based research center of its kind associated with a college or university in the United States."
As Craig Calcaterra reports, the key here is "humanities-based." The program will look at art, history, and culture -- just like your Intro to Lit and Colonial America courses -- through the lens of America's pastime.
The Institute of Baseball Studies is no joke, either: with the vast archives of the Baseball Reliquary and Whittier's own professors, students will have a lot to actually, you know, study. And because we at Cut4 wish we could have majored in baseball studies, we came up with a few suggestions for some rigorous course offerings:
Baseball in America, Pre-1900: Best to start at the beginning, we think. A crash course takes students through baseball's humble beginnings, including stickball, Knickerbocker Rules, and the formation of professional leagues like the National Association of Base Ball Players. Bonus: hands-on learning opportunities that go something like this:
Sartorial Developments of the 20th Century: Honus Wagner played with a collar poking out of the top of his uniform, today's players debate high socks vs. low pants cuffs and the merits of a flat-brim cap. Baseball is no fashion wasteland, and uniform styles often echo trends at large in America. Why not offer a course answering the age-old question: How do you look the coolest on the basepaths?
An American Experience: Baseball and the Media: From Russ Hodges' call of "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" in 1951 to the 2009 launch of MLB Network, the media shapes the way Americans see, hear, and interact with the sport.
Baseball, Fictionalized: Part film class, part cultural survey, a course on portrayals of baseball in pop culture offers a trove of texts to create a syllabus. Might we suggest The Sandlot? Or hallowed television classic "Homer at the Bat?"
Cultural Translation and Adaptation: Baseball Overseas: Not only a great opportunity for study abroad, but a broadening of student perspectives. America isn't the only country that plays baseball, you know. With players like Ichiro Suzuki and Masahiro Tanaka serving as ambassadors, students can explore the way baseball is played outside the U.S., particuarly the burgeoning leagues in Asia, and even the exploits of former MLB players: