How a Detroit Baseball Star and a Talented Local Doctor Separately Discovered Extraordinary Opportunities by Ignoring Common-Sense Disciplinary Practices

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Date: January 9, 2020
Time: 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Location: Tierney Alumni House | Map
5510 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lecture

An Emeritus Academy colloquium presentation by Richard Raspa, English

Abstract: In this talk, I will treat the meaning of common-sense and non-sense in separate instances in medicine and baseball and demonstrate how non-sense succeeded in each. The first is a physician’s life-and-death decision that saved the life of a patient suffering from metastatic cancer. The doctor made an imaginative choice against strong resistance from medical colleagues and insurance providers. He discovered a new way of treating a patient with a life-threatening disease. In a parallel way, the athlete had made a decision at the bottom of the 9th inning during a championship game which sports commentators, team-mates, and physicians thought was wrong. Nevertheless, with two outs, one man on base, and trailing 4 to 3, the athlete hit a home run, a feat which determined the winner of the first game of the World Series that led ultimately to the title. The actions of the doctor and the baseball player were astonishing. Both responded to a crisis by doing something that was by many considered nonsense. My talk draws upon folkloric theories of play, games, and liminality and is based upon interviews with the physician and the ballplayer. This essay is part of a larger study of medical humanities and the use of play theory in the clinical event. 

Richard Raspa has taught at WSU for 51 years in the English Department and the former Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. He twice received the President’s Award For Excellence in Teaching (1986 and 2005), an NEH Grant (1992), a Fulbright for study in Italy in 1974-75, and the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize in public folklore from the American Folklore Society for the best first book in the field of folklore in 1987. His areas of specialty include Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare Studies, Folklore, Organizational Cultures, and Medical Humanities. He is the co-author of five books, including Italian Folktales in America: The Verbal Art of an Immigrant Woman (WSU Press, 1985), The Collaborative Imperative: Librarians and Faculty Working Together in the Information Universe (American Library Association, 2000), and End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries (Springer, 2005). His widely cited journal articles appeared most recently in Journal of Palliative Medicine, Psychoanalytic Quarterly, Journal of Professional Nursing, The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, and Journal of Mediterranean Studies, where he serves on the Editorial Board.

Place: First floor conference room of the Tierney Alumni House, 5510 Woodward (just north of the Park Shelton parking structure on the NE corner of Woodward and Ferry St.). Visitor parking available behind the building. Please come to the rear door of the house and ring the bell for entrance. There is also handicap parking and a ramp for easy access to the front door of the building.



Arthur Marotti