Special Issue: Histories of Play

International Journal of Play
Call for papers for forthcoming Special Issue: Histories of Play

The universality of children’s play crosses times, places and cultures — and histories of play offer unique perspectives on children and their worlds, and the wider societies they inhabit. This special issue examines the histories of play across historical periods, exploring (but not limited) to such topics as:

• continuity and change in children’s play and playlore
• histories of the material and oral cultures of play
• the economies and consumption of games, toys and play “things”
• the spaces and environments of play in historical context
• documenting histories of play through visual, oral and other sources
• transnational and comparative histories of games and playlore
• remembering play: nostalgia, “kidults” and memorialization
• children’s voices in the history of play

The guest editors of the Histories of Play special issue (no. 3 in 2016, appearing in December) are Kate Darian-Smith (University of Melbourne) and Simon Sleight (King’s College London). Potential contributors are invited to send an abstract of 300 words to the editors by 1 November 2015 in the first instance.

Full papers of up to 7,000 words, which will go through a blind peer-review process prior to publication, need to be submitted by 1 April 2016. Suggestions for shorter pieces of up to 2,500 words on historical archives and cultural collections relating to the histories of play are also welcome.

Please check the International Journal of Play (Taylor and Francis Online) website for details on the journal and regarding presentation of material:
http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rijp20/current#.VZINnvmqpBc

Email contact for further information, enquiries and to submit abstracts:
Kate Darian-Smith: k.darian-smith@unimelb.edu.au
Simon Sleight: simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk

Horrible Histories?

Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts
16 and 17 June 2016, King’s College London

It is now over forty years since the bold declaration of psychohistorian Lloyd deMause that “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken.” Stirred by such claims, scholars have subsequently tested the “nightmare thesis” for both the pre-modern and modern eras, locating children’s agency in unexpected places and stressing the contingencies of context, gender, ethnicity, age, class, caste and sexuality. Narratives of historic and contemporary institutional abuse, however, together with insights concerning the legacies of forced child migration, children’s labours and other challenging aspects of childhood experience, suggest that sorrow rather than joy characterises much scholarship on children and childhood. Should this be so?

In another context, since 1993 the phenomenally successful Horrible Histories books, stage plays and television series have helped introduce countless thousands of children around the world to the past. As their titles indicate, Horrible Histories also examine difficult and sometimes grisly historical episodes. Progressive narratives are at work here too, reinforced by children’s museum exhibits emphasizing an emergence from the “dark ages” of childhood in the twentieth century.

“Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts” is the launch conference marking the inauguration of the new UK-based Children’s History Society. Offering a forum for historical reflections from established and upcoming historians of children, childhood and youth, we also anticipate that this will be a platform for school-age scholars to reflect on the ways they respond to the history. This two-day conference invites paper proposals on the following themes:

• Dealing with difficult history and heritage
• Children’s histories and the longue durée
• The “West and the rest” in children’s history
• Definitions of subjecthood and status
• Pain and resilience
• Archival approaches for retrieving children’s agency
• The things of childhood
• Children’s places and places for children
• Play as protest, recreation and the “work” of childhood
• Children’s histories in museums, online and in the media
• The histories of children’s places and places for children
• Future trajectories for researching children’s histories

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words, together with a two-page CV, to both simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk and M.C.H.Martin@greenwich.ac.uk by 1 December 2015. Applicants will be notified of the outcome in January. Panel submissions featuring three papers of 15-20 minutes apiece are also encouraged, particularly for panels showcasing in concert transnational and/or long chronological perspectives. Note that our definition of children is flexible, reflecting the multiple constructions through time of childhood as a social category.

The conference will be free to attend, courtesy of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies and the Department of History, both at King’s College London. Further details will follow regarding accommodation options, conference-related activities and Society administration. If you would like to become involved in the running of the Children’s History Society, please email simon.sleight@kcl.ac.uk and M.C.H.Martin@gre.ac.uk to express your interest.

Dr Simon Sleight (King’s College London) and Dr Mary Clare Martin (University of Greenwich).

Outreach Grant Conference Report: “Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan and Beyond”

From Sabine Frühstück (University of California at Santa Barbara), who organized the workshop:

On February 27-28, 2015, SHCY helped to sponsor an international workshop on “Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan and Beyond” at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Organized by Sabine Frühstück, the workshop brought together scholars from History, Anthropology, Sociology, and Cultural Studies from Europe, Japan, and the United States. The ten papers were organized in several sessions on Playing + Games, Visual + Writing Cultures, and Visual Cultures, and covered the period from medieval to contemporary Japan.

A number of papers explored such questions as how the boundaries between adulthood and childhood have been historically drawn, what the place of play and games have been in education, and how children have been sexed and gendered in different settings. Koresawa Hiroaki (Otsuma Women’s University) and Jinno Yuki (Kanto Gakuin University), both expert of the history of toys and the commercialization of childhood, for instance, examined how the proliferation of certain toys might serve as an indication for the changes of attitudes towards children and childhood. Lizbeth Halliday Piel (University of Manchester), Elise Edwards (Butler University), and Aaron Moore (Manchester University) explored the role of play for children’s self-determination from outside play during wartime Japan to contemporary children’s soccer. In papers on the visual culture of childhood, Harald Salomon (Humboldt University) analyzed the subversive potential of films that featured children in the 1920s and 1930s, Sabine Frühstück (University of California at Santa Barbara) presented a paper about the rhetorical and visual mobilization of child innocence in twentieth century publications, and Noriko Manabe (Princeton University) addressed the role of children’s culture in anti-nuclear protest in the aftermath of the 2011 triple disaster in Northeastern Japan. Papers by Kathryn Goldfarb (McMaster University) and Teruyama Junko (Tsukuba University) took up socio-medical questions regarding children who are institutionalized in child welfare facilities and treatment centers for autistic children. A panel discussion with artist Machida Kumi, cultural studies expert Dick Hebdige and anthropologist Jennifer Robertson about the place of children in contemporary Japanese art constituted the final component of the conference.

Over the course of two days about 200 audience members, including students, scholars, and community members, joined the presenters and engaged in lively discussions. In addition to SHCY, the following institutions and university units provided co-sponsorship: the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Division of Letters and Science, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the East Asian Center, and the departments of Art, East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies, History, Sociology, and Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. For more information about the conference see: http://www.eastasian.ucsb.edu/projects/childs-play/.

SHCY Outreach Grant: Child’s Play: Multi-Sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan and Beyond

The SHCY is proud to be a co-sponsor of the interdisciplinary workshop CHILD’S PLAY: MULTI-SENSORY HISTORIES OF CHILDREN AND CHILDHOOD IN JAPAN AND BEYOND, to be held at the University of California, Santa Barbara, February 27-28, 2015. The workshop is partly funded by a SHCY Outreach Grant.
Workshop website: http://www.eastasian.ucsb.edu/projects/childs-play/.​

CFP: Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures

Call for Papers: Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures

Edited by Miriam Forman-Brunell and Diana Anselmo-Sequeira
Foreword by Dr. Eileen Boris

We know more about the history of grownups’ labor than we do about girls’ work, especially in informal domains. We know more about adult women workers than about girlhood employment and work-themed amusements. We know more about girls’ consumption practices than about their production patterns. We know more about childhood and play than we do about how play informs girls’ work skills, sensibilities, and identities as workers. We know more about businessmen and women than about moneymaking girls.

Girls’ Economies: Work & Play Cultures brings into sharp focus the significance of girls’ distinctive labor practices that often overlap with leisured endeavors. By crossing the boundaries between work and play, the margins between girlhood and female adolescence, and the demarcations among various economies, the original essays in this collection traverse the scholarly borders separating the history of labor, play, and business history, women’s history and the history of childhood and adolescence.

This anthology sets out to provide historical, international, and interdisciplinary perspectives on the socio-cultural and economic nature of work in girls’ lived realities and in representations. To that end, we seek previously unpublished essays that examine girls’ often invisible economies (e.g., informal, formal, domestic, household, underground (black economy), plantation, sexual, and sharing economies, etc.) by investigating the distinctive nature of girls’ work patterns that often complicate the lines between manual, domestic, unremunerated play practices, and monetary rewards (e.g., handicrafts; household toys); manifest unique “work cultures” (e.g., DIY participatory cultures) and; employ specific forms of labor, such as the “emotional labor” of Girl Scouts and the “reproductive labor” of girls’ household chores that help to sustain households and enables other family members to engage in paid, productive labor.
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CFP: Playthings in Early Modernity

Contributions are sought for an interdisciplinary collection of essays to be edited by Allison Levy and published by Ashgate Publishing Co. in the new book series, Cultures of Play, 1300-1700 (see http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=5166; series editor Bret Rothstein). Dedicated to early modern playfulness, this series serves two purposes. First, it recounts the history of wit, humor, and games, from jokes and sermons, for instance, to backgammon and blind man’s buff. Second, in addressing its topic – ludic culture – broadly, Cultures of Play also provides a forum for reconceptualizing the play elements of early modern economic, political, religious, and social life.

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Lifework and Legacy: Reviewing Iona and Peter Opie’s Contribution to the Study of Play

International Journal of Play: Call for papers for forthcoming Special Issue Lifework and Legacy: Reviewing Iona and Peter Opie’s Contribution to the Study of Play

The work of Iona (1923– ) and Peter Opie (1918–1982) on the play and games of school-aged children will be familiar to many who study the social and cultural aspects of children’s lives.

Working as independent and unfunded scholars, the Opies published five books on this topic: The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959), Children’s Games in Street and Playground (1969), The Singing Game (1985), Children’s Games with Things (1997), and Iona Opie’s solo volume, The People in the Playground (1993). Distilled from data collected principally from schoolchildren during the period 1950–80 (now held at the British Library Sound Archive, the Folklore Society Archives, and the Bodleian Libraries), as well as pioneering historical research, these publications have been widely read and extremely influential.

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Childhood and Gender in Time

CALL FOR PAPERS: Genesis on Childhood and Gender in Time

The journal Genesis. Rivista della Società Italiana delle Storiche calls for papers for a special issue dedicated to “childhood and gender in time.”

The nature of childhood and its significance as a separate phase of life are at the centre of a process of critical rethinking, which is generating new and challenging interdisciplinary research. We would like to explore the social construction of gender in childhood, from a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, giving particular attention to the role of play, toys, and children’s literature. Our aim is to examine how gender norms and gender models have been formulated and propagated in different historical, geographical and cultural contexts, but also how those models have been appropriated, contested and possibly subverted. We are interested in the relationship between the effort of regulating children and the “agency” that children are able to express, particularly in the context of a children’s peer culture, in which play (broadly understood) has a central role.

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SHCY 2013 recap: Interior/Exterior Spaces for Play

Annmarie Valdes, 3rd year PhD Student at Loyola University recaps Session 20 on Day 2 of the conference. This session dealt with interior and exterior spaces for play and recreation, 1600-1950.

I would like to begin this post on a short personal note: My initial attraction to this panel occurred in part because I spent the first decade of motherhood in, near or cleaning up after countless trips to the sandbox (along with the toys that they wanted to bring to the sandbox). On lazier days I allowed a space in the backyard for a “mud hole”. Even now I consider time spent in that particular “space,” the sandbox, invaluable—both for me and my children. The construction and destruction of worlds built with sand and mud—for me form part of the definition of play. During this time my thought about the sandbox and the mud hole was simple: children need a proper place (or space) to play. Simple? Maybe? And alongside this a couple of reminders 1) that historians need to be careful about interpreting play, as it is such a subjective activity and that what play is or means to and for children and adults if often different—adult research from an adult point of view and 2) when one has a personal interest and experience in a topic, how does one go about maintaining objectivity and 3) how can historians resolve the need for accounts from a child’s point of view?

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Guest Post: Simon Sleight on Thomas Kennington’s Homeless

Recently we asked SHCY member Dr Simon Sleight (King’s College London) to reflect on a source that he had found especially compelling in the writing of his new book, Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 (Ashgate). Here Simon offers his thoughts on a painting, which you can see either here or on the walls of Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia.

Thomas Kennington, Homeless, 1890
Thomas Kennington, Homeless, 1890

Homeless, helpless, a passive victim of the urban environment—this is a dominant image of youth at large in the late-Victorian city. Raised up from wet paving stones by a compassionate passer-by, this fallen child appears feeble, an object for pity and necessary rescue. The portrait’s tone is elegiac: the female figure is dressed in “widow’s weeds,” the garments of mourning, and the child’s limp posture and vacant gaze suggest that death may be near at hand. In the distance the grey gasworks, belching chimney and diagonal crane frame the location as industrial. Nature is a sparse commodity here; even the solitary tree in the painting is leafless, its lower branch snapped, its stone casing restricting room for future development. Nothing, we are invited to infer, can grow normally in this setting. No visual clue is given by the artist regarding the precise whereabouts of these characters. It could be any street in any industrial city of the Victorian era.

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New Book: Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914

From SHCY member Simon Sleight (King’s College London): Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914. Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 2013.

From the publisher:
Baby booms have a long history. In 1870, colonial Melbourne was “perspiring juvenile humanity” with an astonishing 42 per cent of the city’s inhabitants aged 14 and under—a demographic anomaly resulting from the gold rushes of the 1850s. Within this context, Simon Sleight enters the heated debate concerning the future prospects of “Young Australia” and the place of the colonial child within the incipient Australian nation. Looking beyond those institutional sites so often assessed by historians of childhood, he ranges across the outdoor city to chart the relationship between a discourse about youth, youthful experience and the shaping of new urban spaces. Play, street work, consumerism, courtship, gang-related activities and public parades are examined using a plethora of historical sources to reveal a hitherto hidden layer of city life. Capturing the voices of young people as well as those of their parents, Sleight alerts us to the ways in which young people shaped the emergent metropolis by appropriating space and attempting to impress upon the city their own desires. Here a dynamic youth culture flourished well before the discovery of the “teenager” in the mid-twentieth century; here young people and the city grew up together.

Review:
“‘Marvellous Melbourne’, a precocious new world city of the late nineteenth century, is the site for this rich and acute study of how young people carved out their own spaces in the urban outdoors. Simon Sleight draws on a remarkable range of sources to illuminate the subversive perspectives of Melbourne’s youth. The book contributes to the burgeoning international scholarship on young people’s historical experiences, and is recommended reading for historians, geographers and sociologists alike.”—Stuart Macintyre, University of Melbourne, Australia

For more information, see the Ashgate website: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&title_id=&edition_id=11456&calcTitle=1.

New E-book: Toys, Play, Culture and Society

New digitized version available for free on Scribd (search: Jean-Pierre Rossie) and on www.sanatoyplay.org (see publications) of the book:

Rossie, Jean-Pierre (2005/2013). Toys, Play, Culture and Society. An Anthropological Approach with Reference to North Africa and the Sahara. Foreword by Brian Sutton-Smith, 256 p., 144 ill.

The black and white photographs of the 2005 version have been replaced by the original color photographs. At the same time some minor linguistic and formal adaptations have been made but the content remains unchanged.

New Book: Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India

Ruby Lal, Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India: The Girl-Child and the Art of Playfulness. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), xviii plus 229 pages. ISBN: 978-1-107-03024-4.

Publisher’s Description of Book:

In this engaging and eloquent history, Ruby Lal traces the becoming
of nineteenth-century Indian women through a critique of narratives
of linear transition from girlhood to womanhood. In the north
Indian patriarchal environment, women’s lives were dominated by
the expectations of the male universal, articulated most clearly in
household chores and domestic duties. The author argues that girls and
women in the early nineteenth century experienced freedom, eroticism,
adventurousness and playfulness, even within restrictive circumstances.

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CFP: Multi-cultural Toys Exhibition and Conference

Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, University of Greenwich with the Pollock Toy Museum Trust
June 3rd-8th, Exhibition at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich: Saturday June 8th One-day conference

Toys have existed throughout human history in a few basic formats, while children have always created their own playthings. For centuries, craftsmen have created objects for children, which were available for purchase in places such as India and China before they were in Europe. Yet despite contemporary political espousal of innovation and entrepreneurship, the range of toys for sale in mainstream consumer outlets rarely reflects the cultural diversity of twenty-first century Britain. Globalization is usually understood as the dominance of particular brands rather than as an opportunity for diversification and dissemination of local materials.

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Play and Risk in Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture

Announcing: 40th Annual Children’s Literature Association Conference: Play and Risk in Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture
University of Southern Mississippi, IP Resort, Biloxi, Mississippi, June 13-15, 2013

CFP Deadline for Paper Proposals: January 15, 2013

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