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Credit: Megan Ellis

Creative Writing: The Magic of Baseball in Film & Fiction

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Course Description

In 1954, French-American historian and educator Jacques Barzun observed that "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball." In this creative writing course, we'll examine the role of baseball (whether minuscule or major) in our lives and American culture and history at large by engaging with notable baseball films (The Natural, Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, and Moneyball), baseball literature, and critical essays. Why have scholars suggested "that baseball may be perceived as a sort of mirror in which values, power, politics, fashion, class, economics, and race be viewed in microcosm," as Ronald Briley writes in "Baseball and American Cultural Values"? How has baseball become intertwined with American identity? What is it about the sport that immediately evokes nostalgia on a national level? What do baseball legends have in common with canonical literary heroes? Through our process of discovery, we'll "pitch" baseball as an objective correlative and use it to power our own fiction. 

In this workshop designed for both rookie and pro writers, the goals and objectives are 

*to become acquainted with a brief overview of baseball's history and rules in the nineteenth century and beyond  

*to learn and experiment with the craft elements of fiction: character, POV, plot, and place  

*to improve upon incorporating research, analysis, and American popular culture into creative work

*to deliver and receive collegial feedback about creative wor k within a supportive community

*to hit a baseball (seriously!) and attend a San Francisco Giants game

Baseball, like creative writing, is an art form that takes practice, and every baseball player is part of a team. In the same way, no writer becomes great alone. 

Meet the Instructor

Jenn Alandy Trahan 

Jenn Alandy Trahan is a first-generation college graduate who received her BA in English from the University of California, Irvine and went on to receive both her MA in English and MFA in Fiction from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is grateful for support from Carlisle Family Scholarships at the Community of Writers, the Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Laugarvatn, Iceland, the Writing Downtown residency in Las Vegas, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. One Story published her short story about the one and only Tim Lincecum, "The Freak Winds Up Again," and Jenn was stoked to see that One Story subsequently decked out issue No. 271 in San Francisco Giants colors. The Best American Short Stories 2021 went on to list "The Freak Winds Up Again" as a Distinguished Story, and this ode to Timmy also received a Special Mention from The Pushcart Prize XLVI: Best of the Small Presses 2022. All of this being said, Dodgers fans are still welcome to enroll in the course.

Jenn's other work has appeared in Permafrost, Blue Mesa Review, Harper's, and The Best American Short Stories 2019. A 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction, she's currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford teaching courses in contemporary American short stories, creative expression, creative nonfiction, fiction, and Pilipinx fiction.