Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Things I Wrote in 2017

Time for my annual end-of-the-year writing recap! I started doing these in 2014, at the end of my first full year in Baylor's history PhD program. It's crazy to think that my time at Baylor is almost over. I'll be defending my dissertation this spring, and by the end of next year I'll be somewhere that is not Waco, Texas.

As for where I'll be, I have no idea right now. I'll either land a history professor job or a postdoc somewhere, or else I'll embark on the mysterious "alt-ac" career path. Either way, I'd do the past 4.5 years all over again. Working towards a PhD has been incredibly difficult, to be sure, but it has also been incredibly rewarding. Shoutout to the excellent Baylor history departmentprofessors, administrators, graduate student colleaguesfor making the lonely road to the PhD a little less lonely for me and my family.

But enough with the reflections. There will be time enough for that when I, you know, actually finish and defend my dissertation. On to the writing recap! 


That would be my dissertation. Right now it's titled "God, Country, and Big-Time Sports: The Creation of 'Sportianity' and the Transformation of American Protestantism, 1920-1980." I started writing the thing in April and have since completed five chapters totaling 293 pages. I've got one more chapter to finish up before I send it off to my dissertation committee (and then binge watch Netflix for a week). 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Amos Alonzo Stagg and Japanese American Internment

Last year I received a Platzman Fellowship from the University of Chicago Library, which allowed me to spend some time over the summer in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Papers. Stagg was a leading figure in the "muscular Christianity" movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He first earned fame as a baseball pitcher and football end while playing for Yale in the 1880s. Thanks to his celebrity, Stagg attracted eager audiences in the Northeast as he lectured on the importance of faith and the blending of Christianity and athletics.

After his college days Stagg embarked on a coaching career, most notably with the University of Chicago. He coached the Chicago Maroons for forty years from 1892 until 1932, all while continuing to espouse the Christian values that he claimed could be imparted through the game of football. Because Stagg will be a crucial figure in my dissertation (which explores how particular forms of Christianity were embedded within the world of big-time sports in the United States), it was incredibly helpful to spend time with his papers in Chicago. 

During my research, I came across a few really fascinating sources. Most of them will make their way into my dissertation one way or another. But I could not resist the desire to make at least one set of sources public before the dissertation is complete. That set of sources -- including letters, telegrams, and newspapers clippings -- details Stagg's role in defending the rights of Japanese Americans in early 1945, near the end of World War II.

As far as I know, no other scholar has written about Stagg's campaign on behalf of interned Japanese Americans. But the good folks at the Sport in American History blog allowed me to share what I had learned about Stagg. After that story was published, one of my favorite radio shows, Only A Game, asked me to talk about my story with them as well. They produced a great 12 minute segment about Stagg that was featured on their February 17 show. 

If you haven't had a chance to read or listen yet, feel free to check them out:

Amos Alonzo Stagg and Trump’s America (Sport in American History)