Comic Visualized communication associated with children

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  • Visualized communication associated with children (lower forms of expression)

  • Conflict underlying the mytho-heroic narrative (moral panic over children’s leisure and fantasy)

  • Paving the way for animation (Krazy Kat)

  • First Cultural Product that kids bought on their own (competition for leisure time-- the hurried child)

Meaning Making

  • Cognitive Structures (Jean Piaget)

    • Enactive = Play/ Actions/ Gestures
    • Iconic = Pattern Recognition/ Visual Representation
    • Symbolic = Spoken Language (system of abstract concepts)
    • Games, Stories and Literacy (higher level representations)
  • Language

  • Play Identity/ Social Skills

  • Narrative

Why BFG?: Reading the politics of children’s literature

  • Competing Rationales for Books

  • Dahl/ Tolkeing:Archaeology of the Imagination

    • Lost in Translation/ Adaptation
    • Word Play and Conversation
    • Characters and Interactions
    • Therapeutic Ethos -- gentling the imagination

  • Kamloops vs Leapfrog Shopping Cart:

  • We’ll have lots of fun. Lets go shopping!

In Defense of Play

  • Folk play is

    • Social and community
    • Natural and organic
    • Child-generated narrative
    • intrinsically rewarding ie structure of feeling associated with intensified feelings and self-challenge

Huizinga: The Play Instinct as the source of culture making

Children’s Games -control and decontrol -festival, drama and masquarade -contest, chance and mastery -

Carnival as theology and the repression of play

  • Play mocks seriousness and the predictable world

  • Play breaks work ethos - idle hands and the devils bidding

  • Play as celebration (bracketing of reality .. Foundation of as if)

  • Play as spirtual practice of culture making - ritualized theology of ‘chance’ and ‘chaos’

The modernization of play

  • Domestication, commodification, commercialization and technification of play cultures

Toys as Educational Media: origins of constructivism

Play as Learning- John Locke

  • preparation of the child for learning ie blocks, construction, letters

  • sports - skills, strategy, rules and team work - sports play/ phys ed

  • Practice, dexterity, mastery - bows, guns, Yo-Yo ie Playskools and Fisher Price Pull Toys

  • Games, Rules ie Dominos, cards, chess

  • Lego and construction sets

The concept of Kinder-garden giving kids spiel raum (liberating natural play)

moral crisis of childhood removing kids from the streets

  • Mean world syndrome - a cultural world contoured of fear and risk/ increasingly protection from harm

    • Eg the playground movement - mobilize children into safe spaces (1900)
    • Danish Planning
    • The street hockey game vs the organized hockey game (soccer leagues 1990)

productive leisure: managing energy release and transgression

  • Idleness is dangerous/ peer culture is dangerous - ie playgrounds to channel into healthy activity - play as control

  • Sports and the Playing fields of Eton

  • Children need to let off steam - physical challenge and burning excess energy makes children more pliant - the professionalization of sport

  • My scouting career! Play as a form of moral oppression vs emancipation

The Play Ethos

  • Valuing Children’s Constructive Leisure

Play as rehearsal - social skills and role taking

  • Teams (kick the can, capture the flag) and games (spin the bottle)

  • Plush- imaginary friends and bonding

  • Rough and tumble- WWF

  • Playing house/ dolls house

  • Baby dolls, toy soldiers

  • Barbie play

Play and the liberated imagination

  • individual expression: art, music, dance (JAZZ)

  • Fantasy play- narrative elaboration and creativity

  • Role play - doctor, d and d

  • Exploration and problem solving (discovering the world, attitude of wonder ie playing in nature vs playing with transformers)- computers

Modernist Play

  • The work of childhood is learning.

The development of a toy industry:

  • Early Toy industry (Gary Cross- Kid’s stuff: Toys and the Changing World of the American Child)- the children’s day movement - 1928

  • Toys as Marketed Commodities - ideal toys co. and the Teddy Bear

  • History of industry: Marketing vs the market

    • Pre-ww1- dolls and plush:
    • Early Industrialization- FP, Playskool, Monopoly, Lego,
    • Post war-1980- Barbie/ Mattel - early ads
  • Commercialization of Play (global industry)

    • Contemporary-Hasbro, Mattel, Leapfrog

Modernist Concept of “Good Play”

Milestone Toys

  • Learning: cards/ dominos, Puzzles, sand-box, guessing game, Construction

  • Development: Ball, Blocks, Rings, Riding,

  • Role Play: Play house, board games, DnD

  • Fantasy: Puppet, Teddy, Barbie, GI Joe

  • Function: trains, trucks, cooking

  • Entertainment: Jack n box, pin ball, video game

Playing with Culture

  • The Making of the Toy Industry

Games With Rules

  • sports

  • checkers

  • board games

  • cards

  • chess

  • strategy games

Manipulating Objects with Functions

  • Construction Sets

  • Trains

  • Cooking Utensils

  • Domestic Technology

  • Trucks

  • Pull Toys

  • Wagons

Practice and Skills

  • balls

  • skipping

  • playground

  • hopscotch

  • darts

  • drawing

Play industries

Increasing role of marketing in toy industry

Emerging Postmodern Childhood

  • family life

  • television

  • children’s marketing

Family Life: Postwar Trends

  • babyboom

  • suburbs

  • consumer lifestyle

  • fragmentation of family

  • growth of leisure

Is Play Culture Changing?

  • video

Values of Postmodern Play

Revaluing Play as Leisure


  • learning

  • action

  • construction

  • social

Postmodern Play

  • The pleasure of play is make believe.

Effects of deregulation

Identity Play: Fashion, Super Heroes, Family

  • dolls

  • costumes

  • masks

Fantasy Worlds: Science Fiction, War, and Fairyland

  • play sets

  • immersion

  • simulation games

Fictional Sociality: Identity, Peers and Fantasy Play

  • role play games

  • character toys

  • action figures

Style Wars

Globalized Playthings Industry (85 billion)

  • Présentation PowerPoint

Return of the Repressed

What is Play?

  • Modern Play Theories

    • Piaget - play as mental structuration and concept learning: enactive, iconic, symbolic
    • Erikson- play as working through in fantasy
    • McLuhan - games and the psychic structure of culture (sports, contests, war games)
    • Sutton-Smith - play as paradoxical communication and the basis of peer culture

The play ethos: What makes play good for children?

  • Physical:Coordination, energy release, fitness, health

  • Skills and role rehearsal/ behaviour practice

  • Exploration, Discovery,

  • Mastery, confidence, self-satisfaction

  • Conceptual schema ( piaget enactive and symbolic stages)

  • Language, Identity, self expression

  • Rules structures, self discipline

  • Creativity and imagination

  • Learning as pleasure

  • Peer culture, social cooperation

The Dilemmas of Modern Childrearing

  • Emphasis on psychological maturation over needs and growth

  • Emphasis on identity and personality

  • Emphasis on children’s autonomy

  • Emphasis on cognitive development - intellectual stages rather than cross-age mingling

  • Freudian theory (trauma, sexual development, progressing through stages)

“...the last toy that we bought was that light thing from Disneyland...because he hounded us, actually we did it to keep our sanity.”

  • “constantly nag nag nag ... I gotta have this mom... ...especially when he is watching the afternoon TV shows...”

Rough and Tumble:The Ecstasy of Agon-y

Concerned Parent

The thin Black Lion: (life within the domestic sanctuary

  • stress of being a good parent is great

    • financial
    • time
    • partnering
  • how to win/ ensure a childs emotional bonds to family - bonding as well as preparing for the big bad world!

    • well-being vs love (santa gifts)?
  • what is healthy development ?

    • how much freedom and autonomy?
    • how can I define limits?
    • How can I know what is good for kids

The Family that Plays

Debating the Hurried Child Syndrome: MacLeans Nov 22, 04

LeapFrog: The Tyranny of Educational Toys

  • Bringing up Brainy vs

  • Kamloops Birthday Party

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