This essay highlights continuity between discussions of play today and the discourse of the early (Victorian) Anglo-American play movement, a continuity that underscores the successes and failures of that movement. By retracing aspects of the legacy of the Anglo-American play movement (the rise of public play spaces and supervised play, rationales of citizenship, including child crowds, and connections between stories and play), the essay aims to show how we today, in attempts at adult control, rehearse sentiments about play that have been recycled for more than a century at least. Play, the essay indicates, is perpetually political, and its political nature time and again causes it to acquire and lose momentum.


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