It was a busy weekend. I spent Friday evening polishing my presentation for the Joint Journalism Historians Conference, making sure that I had concrete examples of my findings of what is remembered and what is forgotten in Red Sox media coverage. For the record, I talked about the “commemoration of misery” when local Boston papers look back on Bucky Bleepin’ Dent and the significance of October 27, 2004 as a flashbulb-memory event in the imagined community of Red Sox Nation.
I also discussed the intersection of ritual and media in regard to “Win It For…” a thread on the Sons of Sam Horn message board that became a sort of baseball “wailing wall” for Red Sox fans as the team came back in the 2004 ALCS and moved on to the World Series. A printout of the thread is actually in the permanent collection of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a truly emotional read, full of birth and death and sickness and family and tragedy and triumph and I’ll admit (and everyone at my roundtable can attest to this) that I choked up reading from the first post, in which the poster implores the team to win it for his late father, who passed away in 1986. It’s the dedication that “This one’s for you, Daddy” that illustrates these expressions of emotion are not just about baseball, they’re about identity and family. Despite being about “merely” baseball, the discourses and narratives in so much of the World Series coverage is about memorial and commemoration. The coverage is steeped in the nostalgia of misery, which is not as contradictory as one might think.
I had a great time at the conference and saw some interesting papers. (A favorite was about the technology of the New York Times building’s “Zipper.” Fascinating.) The panel on the relationship between memory and history in media studies was a biased favorite, since it featured my Temple doctoral colleagues, none of whom I had met before. That’s the one difficulty with finishing my degree from a distance. There isn’t common in-person access to this fabulous group of scholars. I’m glad I got to see that the study of memory is still going strong in MM&C.
Tooting my own horn: I got a shout-out on Twitter for “best title.” I’ll take any accolades I can get at this point.