History 1L The History of Play and Leisure, Spring 2008

History 1L The History of Play and Leisure
1st-year seminar
Fall 2008
Professor Burke
Swarthmore College

In this course, students will examine both the long-running global history and philosophy of play, games and leisure in human societies and the distinctive modern, post-industrial construction of leisure time and activities. Play is a serious question: there are deep questions about why humans do it and how it has changed over time, and powerful debates about the economic, cultural and social centrality of games and leisure time to modern societies. Do not take this course if you are looking for an easy or casual course: the reading load is often heavy and there are significant writing requirements. Regular attendance and active participation is also required. In some weeks, the seminar will be divided into several groups reading different assignments: in those weeks, you will be responsible for summarizing and describing your reading assignments to the other groups.

History 1L is also a first-year seminar, and we will be working on skills development in writing, persuasive argument, reading and discussion throughout the semester.

Deep Histories

Monday Sept 1st
Gordon Burghart, The Genesis of Animal Play, pp.3-20, pp. 45-110
Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play, pp. 1-51

Exercise: Skimming for argument, note-taking for discussion.

Monday September 8th
Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, all

Exercise: Argument formation.

Monday September 15th
David Shenk, The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, selection (Everyone)
R.C. Bell, Board and Table Games From Many Civilizations, selection (1)
Tomoko Sakomura, Japanese Games of Memory, Matching and Identification, in Asian Games (1)
Alison Futrell, A Sourcebook on the Roman Games, pp. 84-119 (2)
Maria Teresa Uriarte, Unity in Duality: The Practice and Symbols of the Mesoamerican Ballgame, in E. Michael Whittington, The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame (2)

Exercise: Themes across reading, synthesis of information. Verbal summaries of readings.

Leisure, Time and the Making of the Modern World

Monday Sept. 22nd
Peter Burke, “The Invention of Leisure in Early Modern Europe” Past & Present, 1995 (Everyone)
Joan-Lluis Marfany, “The Invention of Leisure in Early Modern Europe”, Past & Present, 1997(Everyone)
Natalie Zemon Davis, “The Reasons of Misrule: Youth Groups and Charivaris in Sixteenth-Century France”, Past & Present, 1971 (1)
Compton Reeves, Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England, Chapter Four and Five (2)
Nancy Struna, People of Prowess: Sport, Leisure and Labor in Early Anglo-America, Chapter Three and Four (2)
Movie: Tom Jones (Everyone)

Exercise: Outlining and flow in writing. How to think about and discuss visual materials.

Monday September 29th
John Plumb, The Commercialisation of Leisure in 18th Century Britain, selection (Everyone)
Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class(Everyone)
Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era, selection (1)
Brad Beaven, Leisure, Citizenship and Working-Class Men in Britain, selection (1)
Phyllis Martin, Leisure and Society in Colonial Brazzaville, selection (2)
Catherine Yeh, Shanghai Love, selection (2)

1st paper due.

Childhood and Play
Monday October 6th
Howard Chudacoff, Children at Play: An American History (Everyone)

Tom Sawyer, Chapter Three, Chapter Eight
The Secret Garden, Chapter Fifteen
Movie: Peter Pan, selections shown in class. (Everyone)

Revision of 1st paper due.


Monday October 20th
CLR James, Beyond a Boundary, Chapter 4 (Everyone)
H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights (Everyone)
David Goldblatt, The Ball Is Round, Chapter 8 (1)
Laura Fair, “Football and Leisure in Early Colonial Zanzibar”, in Zeleza and Veney, eds., Leisure in Urban Africa (1)
Emmanuel Akeyampong, “Bukom and the Social History of Boxing in Accra” (2)
Elliot J. Gorn, The Manly Art: Bare-Knuckle Prize-Fighting, selection (2)

Movie: Langaan. (Selections shown in class)

Exercise: Evaluating methodology.

Play, Hobbies and Domestic Life

Vacations and Tourism
Monday October 27th
Hofer and Jackson, The Games We Played, (Everyone)
Steven Gelber, Hobbies: Leisure and the Culture of Work in America, pp. 23-58 (Everyone)
Ruth Lampland, Hobbies For Everyone [1931] (Everyone)
Austen Riggs, Play: Recreation in the Balanced Life [1935] (Everyone)

Cindy Aron, Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States, selection (1)
Annie Coleman, “The Unbearable Whiteness of Skiing” (2)

Exercise: Primary sources and historical evidence
Source analysis paper due.

Gambling, Drink and Drugs
Monday November 3rd
Thomas Malaby, Gambling Life: Dealing in Contingency in a Greek City, Chapters 2 and 3 (1)
David Schwarz, Roll the Bones: A History of Gambling, Part 2, 5 and 6 (1)
Emmanuel Akeyampong, Drink, Power and Cultural Change: A Social History of Alcohol in Ghana, selection (2)
Madelon Powers, Faces Along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingman’s Saloon, Part 3 (2)
Zhang Yangwen, The Social Life of Opium in China, Chapters 5-8 (2)

Movie: Rounders (Everyone)
Hands-on: Poker

Exercise: Formulating research topics

Digital Games: Applying the History of Play

Monday November 10th
The nature of digital games
Jesper Juul, Half-Real (Everyone)
Salen and Zimmerman, Rules of Play, pp. 302-356

Exercise: Search and other research skills.
Research topics for final paper due.

Monday November 17th
Experiencing and interpreting games
Ian Bogost, Persuasive Games, selection
Mia Consalvo, Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames, selection
Steven Poole, Trigger Happy, selection

Hands-on: Casual Games

Exercise: Sources and historiography
Source reaction paragraph due.

Monday November 24th
Themes, Genres and the Development of Videogames
David Kushner, Masters of Doom (Everyone)

Hands-on: Console games

Exercise: Abstract writing
Abstract for final paper due.

Monday December 1st
Gamer Culture
TL Taylor, Play Between Worlds (Everyone)
Julian Dibbell, Play Money (Everyone)
Various machinima (Everyone)

Hands-on: World of Warcraft, Second Life

Class dinner (TBA)
Iain Banks, The Player of Games (Everyone)
The debate over the future of leisure

Exercise: Discussion of drafts of final paper.

Final 10-12 pp. paper due by 5pm December 22nd.