Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Hockey and Canadian Literature – January 3-14 2011

Here’s a description of my upcoming Winter Session class on hockey and Canadian literature, which runs from January 3-14th 2011.

“Hero of the Play”: Hockey in Canadian Literature


While hockey is undoubtedly a quintessential part of Canadian identity, it is mostly absent from Canadian fiction and poetry until the publication of Roch Carrier’s iconic short story “The Hockey Sweater” in 1978. Over the last thirty years, however, hockey has proven to become a rich source of inspiration for some of Canada’s best writers of fiction and poetry.

In this compressed two-credit online course we will read and discuss some of the most important fiction and poetry about hockey to emerge during this period. We will also spend time considering the extensive connections between hockey and Canada’s national identity, which is reflected in everything from the ubiquitous outdoor rinks in nearly every neighborhood across the country to the presence of a passage from “The Hockey Sweater” on the back of Canada’s five-dollar bill.

While this is certainly a course for fans of the game, it is also designed to be a course for those fascinated by the intersections between literature and culture. Some knowledge of hockey and Canada will be helpful but is not essential in any way to one’s enjoyment of this course. Reading list will include two volumes of poetry (Hero of the Play, by Richard Harrison, and Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems, by Randall Maggs), two novels (King Leary, by Paul Quarrington; and Twenty Miles, by Cara Hedley) and one of the best known Canadian short stories “The Hockey Sweater,” by Roch Carrier.

This is an online class. From Monday through Friday over two weeks students will need to log in to Blackboard each day, read online lectures, and respond both to online writing prompts and to the writing of their fellow students.  An essay drawing on the readings will be due no later than one week after the last day of our classes. Because of the intensive nature of this course, students are advised to have most, if not all, of the books read ahead of time.

Books can be purchased at the UVM bookstore or online.  Please note, though, that King Leary is not available in the United States.  I will be ordering copies in from Canada that you can purchase from me in my office (321 Old Mill)  or you can order them from Amazon Canada (  Make sure to buy this from me before leaving for the Christmas break.  If you live in the Burlington area, of course, you can buy it from through the end of December.

Registration opens for this class on November 22.  Please visit for more information.

If you have any questions about this class, please email