Rachel C Kirby


PhD Candidate in American Studies

Introduction to American Studies


Boston's Pastime: The Red Sox and their City


Summer 2020

Baseball is often referred to as America's Pastime, and Boston is home to one of the most storied teams and to the oldest Major League ballpark in the country. This course used the Boston Red Sox as a case study for introducing students to the methods, approaches, and themes of the field of American Studies. The course was broken into units that reflected the baseball content and American Studies approach we were focusing on at that time: Equipment, Signs, and Scorecards (material and visual culture); Put Me In, Coach (experiential research); Broadcasting Baseball (mass media and popular culture); The Ghosts of the Game (memory and history); No Such Thing as Free Baseball (economics and labor); and The Batting Lineup (the individual and the collective). Within these units, we looked at a range of cultural objects that offered insights into issues of race, class, gender, labor, and tragedy within baseball specifically and American society broadly.

The course fulfilled two of Boston University's HUB (General Education) requirements: Critical Thinking, and Research/Information Literacy.

*This course was conceptualized prior to the spread of COVID-19, and was designed to draw upon Boston University's close proximity to Fenway Park and the expected 2020 baseball season. The course content, assignments, and guest lectures were adjusted to best accommodate teaching fully on Zoom. I am very grateful to the guest speakers, Sarah Coffin, Gordon Edes, Katherine Elizabeth Walden, PhD, and Christopher Stokum, who also adapted their planned lectures and tours to our virtual format.