WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., June 23, 2020 — Last year, the international Sport Literature Association met in Paris, France. This summer more than 50 participants took part in the annual meeting virtually, in a conference hosted by West Liberty University.
Facilitator for the meeting was English professor, Dr. Jeremy Larance, who is WLU’s assistant provost for Academic Innovation & Strategic Planning. The group gathered on Zoom June 18 – 20.
“I was more than apprehensive as to how our annual conference would work as a virtual event but it exceeded mine and everyone else’s most ambitious hopes,” said Bruce PRATT, program chair of the 37th Annual Conference of the Sport Literature Association.
Pratt also is a novelist, radio host and instructor of English at the University of Maine.
Presenters were from Australia, Canada, France, Poland, and every time zone in North America.
Novelist and associate professor of Creative Writing at Athabasca University (Canada) Angie Abdou explained: “Our sport literature association is such a tight community. We were all quite stricken at the thought of missing our annual gathering due to the pandemic. Dr. Larance came to the rescue by swiftly moving the whole conference online. I’m so grateful to still have this opportunity to share research and stimulating conversation with my colleagues from all over the world, despite this global crisis.”
The three-day virtual event went smoothly, according to all.
“There wasn’t a glitch. We’re grateful to Dr. Larance for jumping in and managing all the technological components. He also ended up hosting the whole conference – a task I’m not sure he realized came with the new heading of ‘tech guy.’ This conference would not have worked without him,” Abdou added.
Sample Presentations include:
- Poetry Reading Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia 2014–2016, Writer-in-Residence at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond VA
- The Celluloid Economics of John Sayle’s “Eight Men Out” Dr. Richard Black, Associate Professor of English, Northwestern Missouri State University
- The Quietude of Contemporary African American Sports Poetry, Dr. Emily Rutter, Associate Professor of English, Ball State University
“The Sport Literature Association conference organizers did a wonderful job adapting to the circumstances prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The enthusiasm of the presentations and the overall warmth of the organization could not be dampened by the virtual format,” said Dr. Richard Black, associate professor of English at Northwestern Missouri State University.
“The 2020 virtual Sports Literature Association Conference showcased a wide range of innovative creative and scholarly projects. Even as most of our beloved teams are on hiatus, it is clear that sports remains a particularly potent vehicle for reckoning with ourselves and the complex world in which we live,” added Dr. Emily Ruth Rutter, associate professor of English at Ball State University.
The Sport Literature Association is an international organization devoted to the study of sport in literature and culture. Initiated in the 1980s, the organization now has several hundred members around the world and sponsors an annual conference in a different North American location each summer.