Sorbonne Conference Programme

‘Sport, Literature, Society’

Salle des Actes, Université Paris-Sorbonne

1, rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris

List of participants :

Attfield, Nicholas. University of Oxford.

Collins, Sandra. California State University, Chico.

Cottrell, Bob. California State University, Chico.

Coulouma, Flore. Université de Paris X-Nanterre.

Darbon, Sébastien. CNRS.

Gupta, Abhijit. Jadvpur University, Calcutta.

Horton, Peter. James Cook University.

Kesavan, Mukul. Jama Millia University, Delhi.

Yu, Ying. University of Nottingham.

Meinander, Henrik. Helsinki University.

Papakonstantinou, Zinon. University of Athens.

Plenary Speaker :

Roche, Daniel. Collège de France.


There are few interdisciplinaries studies of sport. Although the study of sport is an important component of research in the humanities and social sciences, it is usually carried out in different departments and academic circles, ranging from the faculties of sport to faculties of literature or history. This conference aims at addressing what is being perceived as a lack. It will confront the different perspectives in the study of the cultural dimension of the study of sport by bringing together scholars from a range of disciplines (History, Anthropology, Literature, etc.) who share an interest in the history and representation of sport. Specifically, the meeting of cultural historians and anthropologists who have done work in this field, together with literature specialists who share an interest for sport, will give new impetus to such studies.

The focus of the conference is firmly on the cultures of sport, looking at the definitions and uses of sport, with an emphasis on the colonial and postcolonial worlds. We will be looking at literature and sport as cultural manifestations around the world, with a particular interest in South and East Asia. The global perspective is therefore essential to the conference : the papers will take into account this dimension by addressing, among others, the globalisation of sport, its emergence as a central element in international relations in a postcolonial era, as well as by exploring the literariness of sport in different cultural contexts. The conference will concentrate on some of the ways in which sport contributes to the definition, fashioning and understanding of entertainment, education, politics, industry, physical endeavours, identity, nation. It will insist on the longue durée, suggesting that a historical approach is essential to the understanding of this central social and political process. It will explore the enduring power of sport to shape and question national as well as personal identities. It will seek in literature, not only representations but definitions of sport, addressing its political and cultural mechanisms. It will ground in a historical approach its investigation of the literariness of sport.

This conference is part of a network that is being launched through a collaboration between the School of English, University of Leeds, Great-Britain, the faculty of English, University of Paris-Sorbonne, France, and the faculty of English, University of Jadavpur, Kolkata, India — this network will concentrate in particular on the relationships between literature and sport. It is the second event in a series that is being launched at the University of Leeds in October 2010. The projected series of conferences and workshops will run at least until the summer of 2012, just before the London Olympic Games. A formal application for an international network, under the Leverhulme International Network scheme, is currently being written. The organisation of this conference in the wake of the Leeds symposium ( will be determinant for our application. If successful, it will enable the organisation of conferences and workshops. It is hoped, in particular, that the Sorbonne conference, which will have an international impact and which is being supported by the foremost journal in the field, will generate more research in the relatively underworked area of the literature of sport and of the literariness of sport.

This conference is supported by the International Journal of the History of Sport under the ‘Conference/Workshop’ scheme which supports seminal work in the study of sport. The papers will be published in a special issue of the journal, after going through the process of peer-reviewing.

The languages of the conference are English and French.

Thursday 26 May :

9h15 : Doors open.

9h30 : Opening of the conference.

9h45-13h00 : Literature, Nationalism and Sport

Chair: J. A. Mangan

Zinon Papakonstantinou : ‘The Athletic Body and the Body Politic in Classical Athens: Literary and Historical Perspectives’

Bob Cottrell : ‘Literature and the American National Pastime’

11h15-11h30 : Coffee

Flore Coulouma : ‘Cycling in Circles: Flann O’Brien’s Free-Wheeling Stories in The Third Policeman’

Sébastien Darbon : ‘Un genre hybride : l’autobiographie fictive. Réflexions   sur l’écriture en anthropologie du sport’.

13h00 : Lunch

14h30-16h30 : Sport, Colonialism, Postcolonialism

Chair: S. Chaudhuri

Abhijit Gupta: ‘A Bengali in Paris: Gobor Guha vs Jack Johnson, c1913’

John McLeod : ‘Cricketing Multiculturalism: Caryl Phillips’s Playing Away

Mukul Kesavan: ‘Cricket, Cosmopolitanism and the Nation in Contemporary fiction’

16h30: Tea

17h : Plenary Lecture

Chair: A. Tadié

Daniel Roche : ‘La puissance et la gloire : essai sur la distinction équestre’

Friday 27 May :

9h30-12h45 : Sport, Culture and Politics

Nicholas Attfield : ‘Music, Olympism, Fascism: Berlin, 1936’.

Heinrik Meinander : ‘The Flying Finn in Print: Paavo Nurmi and the Cultural Construction of Finland’

11h00-11h15 : Coffee

Peter Horton : ‘Tumultuous Text: the Imagining of Australia through Sport’

Ying Yu: ‘Beijing Olympic Games and the Advocacy of ‘Sports for All’ in China’

12h45: Lunch

14h-17h30 : Literature, Spectator, Audience

Chair: J. McLeod

J.A. Mangan : ‘Confronted Conformity and Outraged Orthdoxy; The Loom of Youthsuccès de scandale’

Sandra Collins : ‘The Imperial Imperative : Sport in the Service of Modern Japan’

15h30-15h45 : Tea

Supriya Chaudhuri : ‘In the Ring: Gender, Spectatorship, and the Body’

Alexis Tadié: ‘From supporter to reader: the fictions of football’

17h15-17h30 : Conclusions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.