Looking for Peekaboo

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Claiborne Rice


In the context of a preliminary investigation of peekaboo play in a local day care, this essay examines the particulars of one child’s actions as she attempts to engage another child in peekaboo. Four elements of the child’s performance contribute to its evaluation as peekaboo: the stylized motions of looking and eye-covering, the intent to make and keep eye contact with the play partner, the rhythmic timing of covering-uncovering motions, and the opportunistic nature of the attempt to play. Considering peekaboo as a folk illusion puts these kinds of early performances in the context of a developmental trajectory that spans the entire childhood.


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Author Biography

Claiborne Rice, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

Claiborne Rice, associate professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has published articles on cognitive linguistics and poetics, and is currently investigating dialect diversity within Cajun English. His work on folk illusions, with Brandon Barker, is the first study of the traditions of childhood illusion play.


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