—Michele Eodice, University of Oklahoma
—John Duffy, University of Notre Dame
"The Embodied Playbook really gave me some great perspectives on the histories of student athletes and the everyday rhetorics they practice that may be hidden in the academic sphere. It gave me a new perspective on the experiences those students face."
—Abbie Levesque, PhD Student, Northeastern University
The Embodied Playbook discovers a new approach to understanding student literacy in a surprising place: the university athletics department. Through analysis of a yearlong case study of the men’s basketball team at the University of North Georgia, J. Michael Rifenburg shows that a deeper and more refined understanding of how humans learn through physical action can help writing instructors reach a greater range of students.
Drawing from research on embodiment theory, the nature and function of background knowledge, jazz improvisation, and other unexpected domains, The Embodied Playbook examines a valuable but unexplored form of literacy: the form used by student-athletes when learning and using scripted plays. All students’ extracurricular prior knowledge is vital for the work they undertake in the classroom, and student-athletes understand the strengths and constraints of written text much as they understand the text of game plays: through embodying text and performing it in a competitive space. The book focuses on three questions: What are plays and what do they do? How do student-athletes learn plays? How can teachers of composition and rhetoric better connect with student-athletes?
The Embodied Playbook reveals the literacy of the body as a rich and untapped resource for writing instruction. Given the numbers of students who are involved in athletics, whether intramural, community-related, or extracurricular, Rifenburg’s conclusions hold important implications not only for how we define literacy but also for how writing programs can serve all of their students most effectively.