A study of the element of play in the teaching of composition

2003 2003

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Abstract (summary)

The work of play theorists such as W. D. Winnicott, Gregory Bateson, and Erving Goffman suggests that the element of play has intriguing potential for the teaching and learning of writing: repositioning students in relation to dominant discourses, providing an avenue for risk-taking and experimentation, and offering students and teachers a subtle means to negotiate social roles. However, play as a discrete subject has drawn little attention in composition studies, and as yet there has been no attempt to enact a curriculum that deliberately foregrounds the element of play in all aspects of a composition course. The study described in this dissertation fills this gap. In Chapter 1, I discuss interdisciplinary theories of play in relation to work done in composition studies and develop a provisional definition of “play.” In Chapter 2, I present the methodology I used in this study, which focuses on three sections of a first-year composition course I taught during a single semester. In Chapter 3, I describe the curriculum I designed in light of the theories discussed in Chapter 1. I also relate my observations on how the curriculum was received, comment on my own experiences of play, and discuss spontaneous play initiatives. In Chapter 4, I present and discuss student reactions to the play activities as expressed in written reflections, individual and group interviews, and other artifacts. In Chapter 5, I focus on the identity negotiations of three students as these negotiations related to play in classroom discourse and their formal essays. Finally, in Chapter 6, I draw together, complicate, and extend the central themes of the previous chapters by discussing them in the context of the key questions that guided the study.

Indexing (details)

Language arts;
Higher education
0681: Rhetoric
0681: Composition
0279: Language arts
0745: Higher education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Language, literature and linguistics; Composition; Creativity; Play
A study of the element of play in the teaching of composition
Batt, Thomas Alan
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 64/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Herrington, Anne
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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