Aristotle, Academic Literacy, and America's Pastime


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  • Title: Aristotle, Academic Literacy, and America's Pastime
  • Author(s): James Warren
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Sport and Society
  • Keywords: Baseball, Rhetoric, Academic Writing
  • Volume: 4
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2014
  • ISSN: 2152-7857 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2152-7865 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Warren, James. 2014. "Aristotle, Academic Literacy, and America's Pastime." The International Journal of Sport and Society 4 (3): 23-32. doi:10.18848/2152-7857/CGP/v04i03/53973.
  • Extent: 10 pages


Scholars have suggested that educators tap students’ “hidden intellectualism” by including as acceptable subjects those areas of culture, such as sports, that students already know and care about. In particular, sports-themed written composition courses can build on students’ existing knowledge and help motivate students who lack interest and confidence in their academic writing skills. This paper describes a course entitled “The Rhetoric of Baseball” that is designed to meet three goals: (1) bring into an academic setting a sport that students read and talk about outside school, (2) get students to examine that sport in a manner that is intellectually rigorous without obscuring what attracts them to the sport in the first place, and (3) equip students with discourse analysis tools that they can then apply to more traditional academic subjects. Specifically, this course applies the Aristotelian concept of “special topoi”—defined as unstated, shared assumptions that characterize a specific field of discourse—to identify the shape and practice of writing about baseball. Since this method can be used to analyze the discourse of any sport, a larger purpose is to suggest a way others can construct effective writing-about-sports courses.