2018-19 Annual Theme
Play is for children; it's for animals; it's for athletes, musicians, actors, gamblers, dreamers, teachers, parents, and others. It denotes triviality, involvement, artifice, experimentation, and flexibility. PLAY crosses disciplines and invites all kinds of thinkers to the table. PLAY shows up in idioms such as "pay to play," "play house," "play around," "play back," "in play," "play by ear," and "play both sides against the middle." People play the field, play the stock market, play games, and play it safe. We play via our bodies, our imaginations, and, increasingly, via myriad computer gaming programs. We also play with ideas in our minds as we contemplate innovation, personal changes, research, and creative endeavors of all sorts. In his classic text Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, Johan Huizinga articulates two basic aspects of play. It is "a contest for something or a representation of something."
The Humanities Center's 2018-2019 themed events will be realized across several platforms, including a guest lecture series, an interactive kiosk exhibit, a museum exhibit, a film series, a reading colloquium, the presence of the Visiting Scholar, and an anticipated interdisciplinary conference at the end of March. All iterations are open to addressing PLAY as psychological phenomenon, facet of social development, business, metaphor, or umbrella manifest in such things as gaming, professional sports, or the performing arts.
All talks are open to the public. As historian/theorist Christopher Balme writes, "The public sphere is integral to our notions of the future and futurity, because it provides a discursive prerequisite for shaping things to come." Join the conversation!