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Huizinga and Elitism - 'Play and the Rhetorical Turn' by Margaret Carlisle Duncan

For those who are interested in this very hard to find essay, I have provided a link to a Word document (slightly cleaned up but not perfect), graciously provided by Clara Fernandez Vara. In this essay Duncan provides one of the more interesting critiques of Homo Ludens that I've read. She writes:


"First, Huizinga reveals his elitism in the way he divorces ordinary life from what dignifies humanity, that is, play. Huizinga's insistence that ordinary life is sterile and profane and that only play can create culture assumes an extremely elitist and high-culture view of what culture means. Furthermore there are very few people who can in any real sense distance themselves from the ordinary world in the way Huizinga describes. And those who can are in some sense members of an elite and privileged class. For many members of this class, the life of privilege is only made possible by the domination and subordination of a whole class of others who will carry out the loathsome tasks of ordinary life. If we reconsider Huizinga's examples of cruel play in archaic society, we can detect a powerful current of elitism there as well. And this is no conventionally bourgeois view; this is an elitism that smacks of aristocracy, privilege reserved for the nobly born."


The full citation for the essay is: Margaret Carlisle Duncan (1988) "Play Discourse and the Rhetorical Turn: A Semiological Analysis of Homo Ludens" Play and Culture, 1, 28-42.


Play discourse and the rhetorical turn-
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