Redemptive failure in contemporary American sports literature

PhD Thesis

Ireson-Howells, T. 2018. Redemptive failure in contemporary American sports literature. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
AuthorsIreson-Howells, T.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

This thesis explores America’s fascination with its own sports as purveyors of national identity. American literature has found unique inspiration in sporting competition, not only depicting professional athletes, but drawing from the experiences of fans and amateurs. While the athlete’s heroism and eventual fall has been analysed in previous discussions of this topic, my route of inquiry positions decline and defeat as more central and complex concepts.

The focus of this thesis is on the remarkably diverse ways in which contemporary writers reimagine aspects of sporting failure both for their characters and within their own creative process. The centrality of failure seems an affront to the United States’ celebration of success and victory. However, the common strand in the most ambitious contemporary sports writing is to portray experiences of loss and failure as paradoxical routes to self-affirmation.

Postmodern writing on sports has taken from the drama and narrative implicit in sporting contest, but uses this framework to question ideas of masculinity, ethnicity, memory and myth. The writers I discuss incorporate failure into these themes to arrive at points of redemptive discovery.

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Publication process dates
Deposited11 Sep 2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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