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Call for Papers
Playful Encounters: Interdisciplinary Engagements with Play, Creativity, Entertainment, and Fun
University of Nottingham Ningbo China, September 29 – 30, 2018

In the now classic Homo Ludens, Huizinga situates “play” as the foundation of culture – the point from which all human structures, ideas, and societies stem. Sutton-Smith’s The Ambiguity of Play posits an equally broad scope, with “play” encompassing everything from the imaginary, the development of individual identity and passing on of traditions through rituals, power-plays in politics and war, fate and games of chance, and pure frivolity and humour. The entertainment and creative industries are billion-dollar businesses, but Huizinga and Sutton-Smith imply that almost any aspect of human culture could be conceptualized as forms of play – and yet in so doing introduces great seriousness into such “games.”

While there is a wide variety of research taking place within various disciplines which explore the specific themes of this conference, interdisciplinary dialogues about play / creativity / entertainment / fun are more limited. Therefore, this conference aims to open such dialogues between different approaches to “the playful” in order to consider what valuable synergies might be possible between different areas of study.

What can such conceptual lenses bring to disciplines which have not traditionally engaged with them, and what might particular disciplinary understandings of “play” bring to the discussions going on elsewhere? How might various theories and practices around “play” advance various disciplines which have not usually engaged with them?

We invite papers which explore our themes, or which offer considerations of the application of such concepts to the researcher’s discipline. Panels may also be proposed. We are particularly interested in non-traditional presentation formats and will welcome workshops.

Potential themes and areas:

  • Thinkering – thinking through theories of play, fun, fantasy, creativity, “the play of ideas.”
  • Playful Pedagogies – incorporating play into teaching practices, teaching creativity.
  • Identity – performativity, persona, imagined communities, imagined geographies.
  • Politics as Entertainment – the “comedic turn” in politics, social satire.
  • Dark Sides of Play – “war games” and dangerous games.
  • Mind and Body – sport, health, games, and play.
  • Post-anthropocentric Play – animals, AI, and play.
  • Play-grounds – spaces of play, online spaces, games, theme-parks.
  • Genres of Play – fantasy, magical realism, fiction.
  • Creative Industries – capitalizing on creativity, entertainment and pleasure.
  • Playing with Numbers – strategy, math, and predicting “chance.”

We encourage discussion within and between disciplinary areas such as: Media and Cultural Studies; Fan Studies; Celebrity Studies; Ethnographic Studies; Education; English and/or Literature Studies; Performance Studies; Games Studies; Digital Games; New Media; Mathematics; International Studies; Political Studies; Biology; Behavioral Sciences; Psychology; Design and Architecture; Philosophy and Critical Theory.

Submission of Abstracts

Please prepare your abstracts following these guidelines:

  • 250-500 words maximum
  • Please include four to six keywords.
  • Times New Roman 12 point, single space.
  • Submit abstracts by the deadline by email to

If you are outside of China and plan to submit an abstract and/or attend the conference, please use the above email address to express your interest as soon as possible to the organisers, who will brief you on the necessary VISA application process.

Key dates

Abstract submission deadline: May 31, 2018
Notifications: July 15, 2018
Early bird registration opens: July 15, 2018
Regular registration opens: August 15, 2018
Conference: September 29-30, 2018

CFP – Playful Encounters: Interdisciplinary Engagements with Play, Creativity, Entertainment, and Fun