A conference in the spirit of serious play


John Singleton Copley, Young Lady with a Bird and Dog (1767)

In his Essais, Montaigne suggests that “Childrens playes are not sportes, and should be deemed as their most serious actions” (Florio translation, 1603). Three hundred years later, Sigmund Freud maintains that “it would be wrong to think” that a child at play does not take his imagined “world seriously . . . The opposite of play is not what is serious but what is real” (“Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming,” 1907).

We are seeking papers that take up notions of play (broadly construed) in early modern literature from a phenomenological perspective: how can we understand play as lived experience or lived experience as play in early modern texts? Taking our cue from recent scholarly developments in historical phenomenology and in the study of affect, emotion, cognition, and design, we are looking for papers that attend seriously to play in various early modern manifestations. If play and seriousness are conjoined, as Montaigne and Freud write, what serious work does play perform, and how do play and playfulness reflect, distort, shape or create the realities they resist, enjoy, or inhabit?

Conference Information:

Date: March 4-5, 2016

Location: Alumni Hall (Mosher Alumni House) and McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020)
University of California, Santa Barbara

Keynote Speakers:  Laura Engel (Duquesne University), James A. Knapp (Loyola University Chicago), and Bruce Smith (University of Southern California)

For more information, contact the conference organizer, Kristen McCants, at emcfellow@gmail.com.

See the conference flyer here!