2-2 | Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Book Review

Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Rodney P. Carlisle, ed.
Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2009. Photographs, illustrations, list of articles, list of contributors, reader's guide, chronology of play, glossary, index. 1032 pp. $295.95 cloth. ISBN: 9781412966702

by Scott G. Eberle

First Paragraph:

Offering more than 450 entries written by 130 authors from around the world, the sprawling, two-volume Encyclopedia of Play gives newcomers speedy access to many topics that range from the daffy ("Blinky Bill," "Gollywogs," and "Hit the Rat") to the deep ("Daydreaming," "Play as Catharsis," and "Playground as Politics"). For more experienced hands, the volumes provide topical reminders and organizing cues: "Adlerian Play Therapy," "Symbol Formation and Play," and "Theology of Play" are good places to start if one is brushing up. The editor, historian Rodney P. Carlisle, observes that play and games as universal expressions represent both the "dispersion of culture and the underlying structure of human nature" (p. xi). Thus while moving from A to Z, the Encyclopedia follows themes in the cultural anthropology and sociology of play, explores topics in play's history and psychology, sketches the highlights of play in more than ninety countries, and tells brief stories of many specific playthings and games. Brian Sutton-Smith, who wrote the foreword, delights in the profusion of subjects—"the cauldron of multiplicitous ambiguity" (p. ix)—that appears in the Encyclopedia of Play.