Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940

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Kathryn Grover
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1992 - Art - 262 pages
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In American society, the concepts of "leisure" and "play" usually have been defined in opposition to the idea of "work." Yet as Dutch historian Johan Huizinga argued in his pathbreaking study Homo Ludens, the relationship between work and play is more complicated than this simple dichotomy suggests. Understood as a state of mind rather than as an activity, play can make the most challenging task relaxing, even joyful. At the same time, the pursuit of leisure can be serious business indeed.
Hard at Play is a collection of original essays that examine the role of leisure in American culture from the antebellum period to World War II. Encompassing a variety of disciplinary approaches, the pieces cover a wide range of topics, from roller skating and riflery to photography and "free play." Some of the essays explore how the upper and middle classes established boundaries around "appropriate" forms of recreation in order to distance themselves from the working class. Others demonstrate how gender and ethnicity circumscribed leisure pursuits. Still other essays document the transition of both individuals and families from a posed and formal social life to a more relaxed, candid, and intimate domestic world. The book includes more than 100 illustrations, as well as a glossary of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century games and pastimes.
 

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Hard at play: leisure in America, 1840-1940

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This collection, which grew out of a conference held at the University of Massachusetts Strong Museum, includes essays on diverse activities that are related by their inclusion under the broad ... Read full review

Contents

Are We Having Fun Yet?
1
Ocean Grove and Asbury Park New Jersey 18691914
8
MiddleClass Americans Appropriate German Ethnic Culture in Buffalo in the 1850s
39
Rollerskating toward Industrialism
61
The Rise of Urbanism and the Romance of the Rod and Reel
77
American Rifle Games 18401900
93
The Parlor Stereoscope Comic Stereographs and the Psychic Role of Play in Victorian America
112
Domestic Photography in the Nineteenth Century
139
Childrens Play in American Autobiographies 18201914
161
Play and Americas Country Schools 18701940
188
The Natural Limits of Unstructured Play 18801914
210
A Glossary of Outdoor Games
227
Contributors
251
Index
253
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