The Handbook of the Study of Play

ISBN 13: 9781475807943

The Handbook of the Study of Play

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9781475807943: The Handbook of the Study of Play

The Handbook of the Study of Play brings together in two volumes thinkers whose diverse interests at the leading edge of scholarship and practice define the current field. Because play is an activity that humans have shared across time, place, and culture and in their personal developmental timelines—and because this behavior stretches deep into the evolutionary past—no single discipline can lay claim to exclusive rights to study the subject. Thus this handbook features the thinking of evolutionary psychologists; ethologists and biologists; neuroscientists; developmental psychologists; psychotherapists and play therapists; historians; sociologists and anthropologists; cultural psychologists; philosophers; theorists of music, performance, and dance; specialists in learning and language acquisition; and playground designers.

Together, but out of their varied understandings, the incisive contributions to The Handbook take on vital questions of educational policy, of literacy, of fitness, of the role of play in brain development, of spontaneity and pleasure, of well-being and happiness, of fairness, and of the fuller realization of the self. These volumes also comprise an intellectual history, retrospective looks at the great thinkers who have made possible the modern study of play.

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About the Author:

James E. Johnson is professor of education and program coordinator of Early Childhood Education at The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Series Editor of Play & Culture Studies, Past President of The Association for the Study of Play, and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Play, he has coauthored or coedited Play and Early Childhood Development, Approaches to Early Childhood Education, Play, Development, and Early Education, and Children’s Play in Diverse Cultures.

Thomas S. Henricks is Distinguished University Professor at Elon University. His interests as a sociologist include social theory, modernization and change, popular culture, social stratification, race and ethnic relations, and, particularly, play and sports. His numerous publications include Disputed Pleasures: Sport and Society in Preindustrial England; Play Reconsidered: Sociological Perspectives on Human Pleasure; and Selves, Societies, and Emotions: Understanding the Pathways of Experience.

David Kuschner is associate professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati. His research interests include the history and philosophy of early childhood education, child development, and the role of play in the early childhood curriculum. He is coauthor of The Child's Construction of Knowledge: Piaget for Teaching Children; editor of From Children to Red Hatters: Diverse Images and Issues of Play; and a coeditor of International Perspectives on Children's Play. He is the 2014 recipient of the Brian Sutton-Smith Play Scholar Award from The Association for the Study of Play (TASP).

Scott G. Eberle is vice president for Play Studies at The Strong and Editor of the American Journal of Play. Trained in intellectual history, he has developed dozens of exhibits for The Strong’s National Museum of Play, lectured widely on historical interpretation, and contributed to the Journal of Museum Education, Death Studies, History News, and the American Journal of Play. He is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of four books, including Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame: A Celebration of the Greatest Toys of All Time! He regularly contributes blogs to Psychology Today.


This two-volume publication finally fills a void that play scholars - and those who recognize the primacy of play as a fundamental expression of humanity - have been anticipating with a tremendous sense of urgency for many years. The Handbook of the Study of Play unites the diverse academic disciplines that theorize, research, or apply play - ranging from cognitive, developmental and positive psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, ethology, sociology, philosophy, cultural and intellectual history, neuroscience, education, performance, and folklore studies to psychotherapy. . . .'Come sail with me through a life spent fishing the waters of play theory,' Brian Sutton-Smith opens with...It is an invitation that might just as well refer to the entire handbook, for the seamless and pleasurable sequential logic of its chapters, each stocked with academic curiosities and fascinating anecdotes, allow the reader to fly-fish in this vast pool of exciting knowledge. (American Journal of Play)

The text is a stunning two volume, transdisciplinary exploration of play. Edited by some of the foremost thinkers within the field, contributions are provided from an even greater range of revered and learned colleagues.... It has been a pleasure to read and I am certain will provide insight for both new and experienced readers alike. I am also sure it will continue to be for a long time into the future a most reliable transdisciplinary reference and a welcome addition to the literature. (International Journal of Play)

This all-encompassing handbook is based on the works of more than 30 of the nation’s foremost play authorities who have dedicated their lives to studying play from a theoretical standpoint and for practical application. Readers are enlightened and engaged as they gain new insight into the multidisciplinary nature of play. (Rhonda Clements,Ed.D. Professor of Education & Movement Sciences, Manhattanville College)

Today when play across the life stages is being recognized by a wide range of disciples as vital to our health and well-being, this handbook succinctly and comprehensively offers a top-notch array of play research, theoretical perspectives, and applications. An essential work for all interested in the serious study of play. (Gary Cross, distinguished professor of modern history, Pennsylvania State University)

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