WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., June 28, 2021 — For the second year in a row, West Liberty University hosted the Annual Conference of the Sport Literature Association, which attracts attendance from around the globe. Presenters were from Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, and every time zone in the United States.
Due to ongoing pandemic travel restrictions, the meeting was a virtual production facilitated by WLU’s English professor, Dr. Jeremy Larance, who also serves as WLU’s Assistant Provost for Academic Innovation & Strategic Planning. The group gathered on Zoom June 23 – 26.
“I was pleased to host the 38th Annual Conference for the Sport Literature Association for the second time, in a virtual format that allowed everyone, no matter the travel restrictions in various countries, to participate,” Larance said.
In attendance were professors, creative writers, historians and journalists, according to Larance. Papers and readings were in the area of sport literature: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama or film.
“Although most of us would have preferred to meet in person, there are some benefits to meeting virtually. Travel budgets in higher education are shrinking every year, so at least this way everyone invited could afford to attend. The SLA’s President, Dr. Fred Mason (University of New Brunswick), and the program chair, Dr. Kasey Symons (Swinburne University), worked incredibly hard over the past year organizing an amazing collection of presenters from around the world.”
This year’s keynote speaker Janice Forsyth, member of the Fisher Cree First Nation and Associate Professor in Sociology and Director of Indigenous Studies at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research focuses on Indigenous-settlers’ relations in Canada told through the lens of sport.
Her 2020 monograph, Reclaiming Tom Longboat: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport won the 2021 North American Society for Sport History Monographs Book Award.
Scholarly and critical submissions for the conference celebrate the intersection of literature with the world of play, games, and sport.
Travel restrictions permitting, next year’s Annual Conference of the Sport Literature Association will be held in British Columbia, Canada, according to Larance. WLU hosted the group in person in 2017.
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.