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What do baseball and videogames have to do with English?

Baseball is the focal point for the next English cross-talk gathering.
February 08, 2012

Language and story play a part in just about everything – including sports and games, which is the theme for the Department of English’s dynamic “Faculty Cross-Talks and Coffee Series” this spring. Free and open to the public, the series is designed to fuel an interactive, interdisciplinary conversation among students and members of the ASU and Tempe community.

Baseball is the focal point for the next cross-talk gathering to be held at 3:30-4:30 p.m., Feb. 22, in the Durham Language and Literature building, room 60. Refreshments will be served.

Film and media studies expert Aaron Baker and rhetoric and composition specialist­ Keith Miller – both faculty in English – will host and talk about the impacts and experiences of baseball through the perspectives of their disciplines.

Baker is the author of  the book “Contesting Identities: Sports in American Film,” which argues that “even as sports films tackle socially constructed identities like class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, they ultimately underscore transcendence of these identities through self-reliance.” Baker will draw upon this work to discuss the representation of baseball in television and film.

Miller, a civil rights scholar, will use a historical lens to focus on Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues, “where players regularly improvised a jazz-like version of baseball.” Miller will talk about how Robinson’s improvisational form of baseball was reminiscent of “a Horatio Alger-like story of one individual overcoming gigantic hardships.”

The Department of English’s Research, Creative Activities, and Social Committee, co-chaired by assistant professor Heather Maring and associate professor Bambi Haggins, created the cross-talk series. The series hopes to “bring together faculty members from different concentrations for discussion on common topics, in honor of the department’s interdisciplinary work, and share their ASU research and interests in an informal setting.”

The first installment of the series was a Jan. 25 discussion on videogames, featuring two English faculty who are specialists in rhetoric and composition – Alice Daer (who studies social media) and by Elizabeth Hayes (who researches IT fluency). The duo examined how this field relates to English majors and their own experience on teaching a topic that is constantly changing.

To find out more about upcoming events in this series, please contact Heather Maring at or Bambi Haggins at

Written by Deanna Stover

Media contact:
Kristen LaRue,
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences