Exhibit | June 24, 2013

The Ransom Center Showcases Literature About Sports


AUSTIN, Texas — "Literature and Sport," an exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center, showcases the literature of sport through fiction, essays, poetry and plays. The exhibition runs from June 11 to Aug. 4, 2013, at the Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.

Featuring more than 150 items drawn entirely from the Ransom Center's collections, the exhibition is organized by sport and highlights some of the finest examples of literary writing about baseball, football, boxing, tennis, cricket, bullfighting and other sports. Writers as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Don DeLillo, Norman Mailer, Marianne Moore, Joyce Carol Oates and David Foster Wallace have written about sport. But their works are no mere play-by-play accounts of a ball game or tennis match or prizefight. The competition, spectacle, personal struggle and exaggerated personalities so characteristic of sport offer writers the perfect backdrop upon which to look deeply into human nature and create literature that transcends sport itself.

"The Ransom Center's collections are filled with rich, masterfully written works about sport, works that reflect the complexities of life, from its challenges and disappointments to its great pleasures," said Megan Barnard, curator and assistant director for acquisitions and administration.

From Bernard Malamud's "The Natural" to Mailer's "The Fight," great literary works capture the appeal of sport and its ability to transform both the individual and society, all the while demonstrating through lyricism and verbal dexterity how writers elevate language to literature. Corrected drafts, handwritten manuscripts, letters, photographs, books, art and other items offer visitors a unique, rarely seen view of these works and their authors' creative processes.

Some highlights in the exhibition include manuscripts of Wallace's writings on tennis, DeLillo's writings on baseball, Mailer's writings on boxing and Hemingway's writings on bullfighting; scripts and props related to Robert De Niro's films "Raging Bull" and "Bang the Drum Slowly;" and Arthur Conan Doyle's golf clubs.

"Literature and Sport" can be seen in the Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours to 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.

Photo: The opening page of Norman Mailer's handwritten draft of The Fight, from the Literature and Sport exhibition at the Ransom Center. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin.