This research project opens a new field of inquiry in English studies: the study of the relationship between sport and literature. It is conducted jointly by Supriya Chaudhuri, from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, by John McLeod from the University of Leeds, UK, and by Alexis Tadié from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France.
From hunting in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century fiction (Trollope) to running in contemporary literature (Echenoz, Murakami), sporting activities undeniably pervade literature. A great number of sports feature in literary works: cricket, boxing, football, tennis, cycling, etc. Literature and sport are two different and complementary modes of thinking about, and of acting upon, the world. This project aims at understanding the common ground between both literature and sport understood as cultural modes. By literature we mean here fiction, essays, poetry, as well as occasional literature.
This raises a number of questions. Is there a specificity of literary discourse about sport? Conversely, is sport defined by literature in specific ways? What are the modes of perception of sport through literary discourse? How does one define the figures of sport? How are we to apprehend the rules and cultures of sport and literature? What are the points of contact between their conventions, their audiences, the communities of readers and of spectators? Is there a difference between a literary following and a supporters’ club ? Is it not the case that literature and sport imply an interaction of local, national, global traditions? How far are literature and sport reliant on competitions and prizes?