Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940

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9780870237935: Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940
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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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About the Author:

Kathryn Grover is an independent researcher, writer, and editor.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sparked by a symposium at the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., this collection of 10 essays by historians and museum directors suggests that leisure is a complicated activity that serves as a window onto society. Glenn Uminowicz profiles the New Jersey resorts Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, products of a turn-of-the-century movement merging recreation with Protestant middle-class morality. Colleen J. Sheehy describes how fishing, originally a means of gathering food for subsistence or sale, became a gentleman's sport and respite from urban life. Shirley Wajda examines the late-19th-century cultural shift toward a more easygoing, relaxed family life as exemplified in the kinds of pictures produced for viewing on parlor stereoscopes. Other essays address rifle games, the description of play in American autobiographies and recreation in the nation's country schools. The book concludes with an entertaining glossary describing outdoor games, including Capture the Flag, The Farmer in the Dell and hopscotch. Though academic and aimed at specialists, these essays frequently offer intriguing insights. Grover edited Dining in America, 1850-1900. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780870237928: Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940

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ISBN 10:  0870237926 ISBN 13:  9780870237928
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992

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Published by Univ of Massachusetts Pr (1992)
ISBN 10: 0870237934 ISBN 13: 9780870237935
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