Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2015

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



“We Average Unbeautiful Watchers” traces the role of the American sports fan across literary genres from the novel to the memoir to the blog post. Representing mass-mediated athletics as fundamentally narrative-based entertainments, I argue that fans function as readers whether they realize it or not. Further, while it may seem that sports narratives are “written” by athletes and assigned meaning by journalists, my project demonstrates that fans appropriate those narratives in diverse ways to form their own sense of identity. Inscribed in Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997), Fred Exley’s A Fan’s Notes (1968), David Shields’s Black Planet (1999), and the blog writings of (2005-2011), among other texts, these fan narratives show the literary relevance of an influential realm of popular culture too long ignored by critics. In what we might call the literature of American fandom, sports become sites where authors theorize interpretation, historicity, and narrative. Just as importantly, these narratives demonstrate the readerly resonances between the interpretations of live entertainments and of imaginative narratives—connections that enhance our understanding of the way we incorporate a broad range of texts into our own life narratives.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

William J Maxwell

Committee Members

Iver Bernstein, Gerald Early, Wayne Fields, Katherine Mooney,


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