The idea of basing a research-writing course on The Politics of Sports came out of what editor Anna Carroll identified as her students’ unquenchable engagement with sports-related issues in her classes. To build on this interest, Carroll developed a curated selection of readings for writing teachers to use to introduce students to competitive sports as a site of inquiry into culture(s) and social values. The resulting “casebook” has been used by teachers at the University of Oregon in WR 123: Written Reasoning in the Context of Research, a course which completes the required two-course writing sequence required of all students at the University of Oregon. As explained on the UO Composition Program website, casebooks are compiled, edited, and designed by instructors in the UO composition program for adoption by any teacher in the program. Each casebook explores a single issue through multidisciplinary reading relevant to local and global concerns. Casebooks for WR 123 typically provide one or two units of curated readings designed to introduce students to a real field of controversy in which many different questions at issue and reasonable approaches to answering them are available. Students build on class discussion and exploratory writing based on the readings to springboard into independent research projects.
In re-creating the original casebook as an Open Educational Resource, editors Carroll and Eleanor Wakefield draw on their experience guiding students to investigate sports critically and develop rich, complex research questions and related writing projects. The result is an introduction to the politics of sports as an area of inquiry that prompts students to engage with topics that may already seem familiar (and, for some students, some that are entirely new) to develop critical thinking and writing skills. The OER format meets open access education priorities for free online textbooks and resources and addresses Oregon’s priorities for inclusive, engaged, and research-led teaching by: (1) drawing on student experience and interests in class discussions, developing research questions, and writing assignments; (2) asking students to recontextualize their existing knowledge and interest in sports to incorporate other disciplinary thinking; and (3) to use writing and research skills to embark on independent research relevant to their discourse communities. When students read interesting articles, have engaging conversations, and are invited to question their assumptions about sports, they learn to think critically, write better papers, and actively engage the rhetorical concepts that will prepare them for future academic writing.
This book is edited and authored by Anna Carroll and Eleanor Wakefield.
Anna Carroll has taught writing, literature, and public speaking at the University of Oregon since 2011. She has a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in British Romantic literature. She’s an avid tennis fan and a woefully mediocre tennis player. She hails from SEC country, where real football lives.
Eleanor Wakefield has taught college writing and literature since 2008 and at the UO since 2010. She has a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in poetry and poetics. She is a fan of many sports, especially Gonzaga men’s basketball, German soccer, and UO women’s basketball and acro tumbling. Originally from Seattle, she is still choosing an NBA team (and welcomes suggestions). She is a recreational runner, swimmer, and dancer.