Play’s the Thing: Phenomenology and Play in Early Modern Literature, 1500-1800

Play’s the Thing: Phenomenology and Play in Early Modern Literature, 1500-1800

Friday – Saturday, March 4-5, 2016 / 1:00 PM
McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB and Alumni Hall, Mosher Alumni House

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).

This conference explores play 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 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?

In addition to our full schedule of presentations, we welcome three distinguished keynote speakers: Laura Engel (Duquesne University), James A. Knapp (Loyola University Chicago), and Bruce Smith (University of Southern California). The conference will also host presentations from two major digital humanities resources held in the English Department at UCSB, Early Modern British Theater: Access and the newly-launched EMC Imprint.

March 4, from 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM, will be held in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB. March 5, from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM, will also be held in the McCune Conference Room. Saturday afternoon, from 12:15 PM to 5:30 PM, will be held in the Alumni Hall in Mosher Alumni House.

Sponsored by The College of Creative Studies, the Departments of Comparative Literature, English, French and Italian, Germanic and Slavic Studies, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Theater and Dance, the Graduate Division, and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.