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Title:Bodies at play: On the ludic dimensions of human embodiment
Author(s):Adamson, Matthew Darren
Director of Research:Sydnor, Synthia
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Sydnor, Synthia
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Littlefield, Melissa; Denzin, Norman; Cole, C.L.; Woods, Amy
Department / Program:Kinesiology & Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Play Theory
Philosophy of Play
Sociology of Play
Body Studies
New Materialisms
Abstract:This study introduces a theoretical framework for play with which to explore notions of human embodiment, drawn from philosophical, theological, and theoretical works on play, ritual, and embodiment. In order to do this, I apply an understanding of play as a force that is a part of the world and its life and becoming. From such a view, the world is understood as constituted by a variety of relationships between objects, bodies, forces, people, entities, etc. that are all interconnected in their existence. This opens up a complex web of interwoven relationships, full of “contradictions and ambiguities”, where it becomes difficult to distinguish one actor from another, or one agency from another. As such, I engage a notion of play that can be both light and dark, joyous and tragic, free and compulsory, creative and destructive: to be at play in the world is to transform and to be transformed. To structure this discussion, I introduce four ideas about play: play is constitutive of reality; play is contextually contingent; play is dynamically unstable, and play is agentially tense. Building from this play framework, I put forth the argument that to be embodied is to be “at play”, meaning caught up in that playful web of interrelationships that is the play of the world. To be a human is to be inextricably caught up in the dynamics of the world at play; it is simply unavoidable. Importantly, this embodied play necessarily involves negotiating the body as a potential agency or force itself that can act of its own accord, sometimes acting or embodying meanings against us. I explore the implications of this framing of embodiment, paying particular attention to the relationship between play, embodiment, human limitation, and meaning. I conclude with a discussion of the relevance of the framework of embodiment as play for the study of human embodiment, health, physical activity/exercise, disability, and, more broadly, the human condition.
Issue Date:2019-10-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Matthew Adamson
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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