Anna Beresin

Undergraduate Discipline


BA, Tufts University. MEd, Harvard Graduate School of Education. PhD, University of Pennsylvania. Special interests include: the psychology of play; urban children's folklore; art and the imaginary; play, power, and violence; and the anthropology of childhood. Co-editor of the International Journal of Play, a Taylor and Francis, peer-reviewed journal. Professor of psychology and folklore, Department of Critical Studies, the University of the Arts, 1999-. Recipient of several awards in children's folklore from the American Folklore Society. SLC, 2021– 

Research Interests

How is play a window into creative thinking and social life? What do children's cultures teach us about the diversity of human creativity? My research straddles several fields: developmental psychology, cross-cultural psychology, sociology, anthropology, education, and folklore and advocates for the wisdom of multidisciplinary lenses in the study of play and paradox. The majority of my research has been the longitudinal study of urban playgrounds, focusing both on children's creativity and the inequity of institutional barriers connected to race, class, gender, and age. Currently researching the impact of COVID-19 on children's play and socialization in Philadelphia, I am studying children's proximity to public green space and their time spent indoors and online. Advocacy projects include co-creating the Global Recess Alliance and NEUARTS, Neighborhood Engagement at the University of the Arts. For a peek at previous research and a sample of books published about play, feel free to visit

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022


Play and Imagination

Open, Seminar—Fall

Children’s play is considered the primary mode of communication for all children. This course examines children’s embodied storytelling, imaginative drawings, toys, and free play, as children themselves rarely separate play from the arts. A sophisticated set of processes often trivialized, psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith states, “The flexibility of the imagination, of play, and of the playful is the ultimate guarantor of our survival” (1997). Topics to be addressed include: play in the time of COVID, play aggression and trauma, and access to play as a social-justice issue. The course may involve observational fieldwork and online toy study, as we examine children’s opportunities for play, learning, and development. Students will read critical works in the psychology of play and recent cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research. There will be discussions, documentaries, and class presentations. Conference projects may relate to a literature review about a topic of interest, an original study, and/or a creative piece reflecting course insights and imaginings.