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Literary Criticism German

The Allure of Sports in Western Culture

edited by John Zilcosky & Marlo A. Burks

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2019
German, Ancient & Classical, Germany
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2019
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Whether it is our love of chance and vicarious thrill, our need to release anxiety and aggression, or our appreciation of the arc traced by a ball at a crucial moment – sports draw us in.


The Allure of Sports in Western Culture contributes to contemporary debates about the attraction of sports in the West by providing a historical grounding as well as theoretical perspectives and contextualization. Bringing together the work of literary theorists, historians, and athletes, the volume’s dual emphasis allows us to better understand the historical and ideological reasons for the changing nature of sports’ allure from Ancient Greece and Rome to the modern Olympics. The findings show that allure is shaped by larger forces such as poverty, wealth, and status; changing moral standards; and political and cultural indoctrination. On the other hand, personal and psychological factors play an equally important, if less tangible role: our love for scandal, the seduction of deception and violence, and the physiological intoxication of watching and participating in sports keep us hooked. At the heart of the volume lies the tension between our love of sport and our knowledge of its only barely hidden cruelty, exploitation, and manipulation.

About the authors

John Zilcosky is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and editor of Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey also published by the University of Toronto Press.

John Zilcosky's profile page

Marlo Alexandra Burks is an independent scholar and recent postdoctoral Fellow in the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universit�t Berlin.

Marlo A. Burks' profile page

Other titles by John Zilcosky