In this webtext, we advocate for play and attempt to design a place for it in the first-year composition classroom. Through its carnivalesque ability to encourage exploration while also producing pleasure, play holds the potential to improve writing pedagogy and, as a result, student writing. Play is often disregarded as the nonessential opposite of work, the marginalized term in the work/play binary (Rouzie 630). Play theorists, who have become increasingly active since the 1980s, disagree. According to these supporters of play, numerous benefits—social, physical, intellectual, and emotional—accompany play (Eberle 224). Perhaps what is most compelling about play is its inherent ties to one of the primary purposes of writing. In the same way that writing helps us to communicate with others and to learn more about ourselves, play exists as "a form of understanding what surrounds us and who we are, and a way of engaging with others. Play is a mode of being human" (Sicart 1). If the processes of writing and play share the same functions and if play is as rewarding as play scholars contend, then why not introduce play to the composition classroom?
Our argument for play divides this webtext into three primary sections. In About Play, Jack Butts and Kellie Osborne explain why composition needs play to thrive as a field, and they select the most appropriate definition of play for composition studies. In Activities, Kellie Osborne provides thoughtful pedagogical examples of how instructors might implement play. And in Usability of Play, Danielle Shuff considers how to make play more usable and accessible for all students and instructors. Shorter sections on the design of this webtext, the authors, and reference citations complete our project.
This webtext serves as a response to the Conference on College Composition and Communication's 2016 call for program proposals (CFP). We believe play deserves attention at this conference because it correlates so closely with the conference's topic; that is, play can reinforce the idea of writing as both a subject of study and an activity. Our project also aligns with a number of conference area clusters, including TA/graduate pedagogy, innovative pedagogical approaches, and pedagogy in digital environments, among others.