CFP: Playful Encounters

Posted on Apr 24, 2018


Playful Encounters:
Interdisciplinary engagements with play, creativity, entertainment, and fun

University of Nottingham Ningbo China
September 29th – 30th, 2018

Playful Encounters

‘Play is free movement within a more rigid structure’

(Salen and Zimmerman, 2004, p.304)

“… law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.”

(Huizinga, 1980, p.5)

‘Any earnest definition of play has to be haunted by the possibility that playful enjoinders will render it invalid.’

(Sutton-Smith, 1997, p.213)

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 dialogue about play / creativity / entertainment / fun is more limited. Therefore, this conference aims to open dialogue 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?

Call for papers

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.
* ‘War games’, dangerous games, dark sides of ‘play’.
* 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.
* 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 via email to<>

Key dates

Abstract submission deadline: May 31st 2018

Notifications: July 15th 2018

Early bird registration opens: July 15th 2018

Regular registration opens: August 15th 2018

Conference: September 29th-30th 2018

Conference URL:


Early bird – 1000 RMB

Student early bird – 600 RMB

Regular – 1200 RMB

Student regular – 800 RMB

Day pass early bird – 800 RMB

Day pass regular – 1000 RMB

Conference Venue

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) was the first Sino-foreign university. It is located in Ningbo, one of China’s major ports and economic centers in Zhejiang province. Ningbo is a rapidly growing city, ranked in the top ten of cities for business in China by Forbes, it is a thriving blend of enterprise, culture, education, tradition and entertainment. It is well connected for national and international travel, for example, with Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong all less than three hours away (by train/plane).


A Conference Hosting Support Scheme grant was awarded by the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (University of Nottingham Ningbo China).

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