Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

User menu

Skip to menu

Play Studies

Area chairs

Erin Heisel (Adelphi University)
A Nicole Pfannenstiel (Millersville University)

Play Studies is a forum for discussing play through theoretical, practical, performative, interdisciplinary, and historical lenses.

Call for papers: 

Papers that discuss a particular scholar’s definition of play (Huizinga, Sutton-Smith, etc.) or a particular scholar’s application of play (Henricks to sociology, Csikszentmihalyi to psychology, etc) are welcome. Papers that explore interdisciplinary applications of play, for example, play and music, play and child development, etc., are also welcome. Relationships between play and space, sports, work, time, the self, language, and community, or papers that explore other philosophical and/or practical applications of play are also possible. Papers or presentations linking the study of play to popular and/or American culture artifacts (movies, literature, images, events, toys, musics, etc), whether discussing the play of creative processes in creating such artifacts or the ways experiencing culture or engaging with artifacts can evoke play experiences, are welcome. Work exploring role-playing games (RPGs) in social, educational, or other settings also welcome, as are presentations that include RPG experiences for conference participants. Work exploring the therapeutic effects of experiencing play through culture also welcome, as are papers exploring dark play, violence, war, and/or applying play in challenging or difficult aspects of culture. Finally, nontraditional presentations that create play experiences for conference attendees are encouraged.

Special Panel 2019!

In response to MAPACA’s unofficial 2019 theme of zombies, the Play Studies area is pleased to present a special panel on zombies as play on, with, and within culture. Huizinga makes in clear in Homo Ludens that play is an element of culture–and we know that individuals play with culture as well as within it. Zombies are an excellent example of layered play and metaphor in literature, film, RPGs, and video games. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, comic book and television series iZombie, videogame Plants vs. Zombies, and many other examples show how the zombie, as a figure, subverts cultural expectations and plays with ideas of the “normal.” Additionally, the Zombie might be a mask or a metaphor for connections between pop culture stories or elements and “ordinary” (as Huizinga would say) life. How we’ve engaged with zombies as symbol and aspect of play changes as culture itself does. This special panel in play seeks proposals on the cultural connections, overlaps, and engagements between zombies and popular or American culture through the lens of play.

Abstracts must be less than 300 words.

Submission via:

Back to top