Hockey in literature stickhandles into classes

A new Red Deer College course is bringing hockey to the classroom. English instructor Laura Davis is behind the course, Hockey in Canadian Literature, examining how hockey is part of and integral to Canada’s national imaginary.

Laura Davis will teach an English course on hockey in literature next fall.

Laura Davis will teach an English course on hockey in literature next fall.

A new Red Deer College course is bringing hockey to the classroom.

English instructor Laura Davis is behind the course, Hockey in Canadian Literature, examining how hockey is part of and integral to Canada’s national imaginary.

Davis is not an avid hockey fan. In fact, she joked she is worried her students will know more about the actual game than she does.

But she is an expert in Canadian literature, and she is interested how this literature is tied to Canada’s national identity.

“What does it mean to be Canadian?” said Davis.

“For a lot of people, hockey signifies Canada or what it means to be Canadian. I want to talk a lot about that.”

Typically, the instructor who teaches the course, which is English 371 — Topic in Canadian Literature, chooses the topic within the framework of Canadian literature. Davis said the course used to attract only English majors.

With her course, she hopes to reach a broad range of students, including hockey players and those who don’t necessarily play or watch but have an interest in how hockey is represented, mythologized and romanticized in Canadian culture.

“I use the word national imaginary because a lot of people would say national identity but I use the word imaginary because really it is an imagined identity,” said Davis.

“That’s what a lot of Canadian literature critics say. We can talk about a Canadian identity but it is really what we imagine it can be. Hockey becomes a part of that because it is kind of imagined in a certain way.”

The reading list is made up of short stories, novels and poems that deal with a hockey theme or subject. A tentative list includes the classic short story The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier; King Leary by Paul Quarrington; and Twenty Miles by Cara Hedley.

A Hobbema hockey team is featured in the story about a hockey riot in Truth by W.P. Kinsella.

And The Hockey Fan Came Riding by late Red Deer College instructor Birk Sproxton is among the selections.

Davis wanted to include a few local connections because she wanted to show how literature happens in communities and is relevant in life.

“Literature is really about the world around us and the stories that we tell,” said Davis.

“Those stories that we tell are about us. So I want to come out with this appreciation for stories, the stories of our lives and the stories right at home. Also that hockey and literature can come together.

“Literature is seen as this high culture thing and hockey is seen as this low culture thing. But no, they are totally entwined with one another.”

The one-semester course will run twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays starting on Jan. 5, 2012, and runs to April 10, 2012.

Registration is now open and space is limited to 30 students. A prerequisite of a first-year English course is required. Visit www.rdc.ab.ca

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com