1st Edition

Children’s Play in Literature Investigating the Strengths and the Subversions of the Playing Child

Edited By Joyce E. Kelley Copyright 2019
    288 Pages
    by Routledge

    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    While we owe much to twentieth and twenty-first century researchers’ careful studies of children’s linguistic and dramatic play, authors of literature, especially children’s literature, have matched and even anticipated these researchers in revealing play’s power—authors well aware of the way children use play to experiment with their position in the world. This volume explores the work of authors of literature as well as film, both those who write for children and those who use children as their central characters, who explore the empowering and subversive potentials of children at play. Play gives children imaginative agency over limited lives and allows for experimentation with established social roles; play’s disruptive potential also may prove dangerous not only for children but for the society that restricts them.

    Table of Contents


    List of Figures




    Caution—Children at Play: Investigations of Children’s Play in Theory and Literature (Joyce E. Kelley)

    1 "Fits of Vulgar Joy": Spontaneous Play in Book 1 of Wordworth’s The Prelude (1805) (Alison W. Powell)

    2 Playing at Work and Working at Play in Mark Twain’s Writings (Alan Gribben and Sarah Fredericks)

    3 "Mammy, can’t you tell us sump’n’ to play?": Children’s Play as the Locus for Imaginative Imitation and Cultural Exchange in the Plantation Novels of Louise Clarke Pyrnelle (Joyce E. Kelley)

    4 Words with Kids at Play: Sculpting Truth and Forging Childhood Friendship in Henry James’s What Maisie Knew and Elizabeth Bowen’s The House in Paris (Jericho Williams)

    5 Idylls of Play: L. M. Montgomery’s Child-Worlds (Caroline E. Jones)

    6 Katherine Mansfield’s Children at Play (Janka Kascakova)

    7 The Buttons of the World are Round: Gertrude Stein’s Toys (Michael Opest)

    8 Playing Pioneer: Childhood, Artistry, and Play in the Little House Series (Anna Lockhart)

    9 "I’m ready to play now, you guys!": J. D. Salinger, Steven Spielberg, and the Healing Power of Children’s Play (Andy Clinton)

    10 Free Play and the Prescriptive Endgames of Orson Scott Card (Tim Bryant)

    11 Children’s Play and Mental Illness in Children’s Literature and Film (Ian Wojcik-Andrews)

    12 "The trampoline of letters and words": Juvenile Linguistic Play in the Memoirs of Binyavanga Wainaina and Shailja Patel (Dorothy Wolfe Giannakouros)

    Notes on Contributors



    Joyce E. Kelley received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Auburn University at Montgomery where she received a distinguished teaching award in 2013. She has published articles in The Journal of Narrative Theory, Children’s Literature, Victorians, The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and the Arts, and Politics, Identity, Mobility in Travel Writing. Her monograph Excursions into Modernism: Women Writers, Travel, and the Body appeared from Ashgate in 2015.