Ludics focuses on the concepts of play and games, widely interpreted. Interdisciplinary at its core, this forum aims by means of innovative approaches at fostering an open dialogue among scholars who are interested in exploring the ludic principle across a broad spectrum of human culture, from language games, education, theater, and performance to law, economy, and politics.

Upcoming Events

Elena Mancini, Queens College in New York City
Reflections on Playful Prose and the Art of Translation
Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 7:30pm
Room 133, Barker Center


Drawing on cultural theories on translation as propounded by André Lefevere and his appeal to celebrate rather than domesticate the idiosyncrasies of a source culture, this presentation will discuss the art of translation as it pertains to the narrative prose of Romanian-born German novelist, Carmen-Francesca Banciu. Distinctive in style and structure, Banciu’s prose presents an interesting challenge for English language translation of her work. Richly metaphorical, rife with anaphora and characterized with a sentence structure that is skillfully elliptical and allusive, as well as deceptively simple and deliberately suggestive and ambivalent, Banciu’s prose is both playful and profound. In this talk, I will discuss the features of Banciu’s writing that render its translation into English engagingly problematic from both a technical and a cultural-philosophical point of view. On the basis of my own translations, I will also examine some compromises and adopted strategies for honoring the playful and the cultural authenticity of the source text, while also attending to natural, accessible and understandable rendering of it in the target language and resisting the pitfalls of over-domestication.

About the Speaker

Elena Mancini teaches German Language, Literature, Film and Writing at Queens College in New York City. She received her PhD in German Studies from Rutgers University, and has taught at Hunter College, Montclair University and Rutgers. She published a book on German-Jewish gay rights activist, Magnus Hirschfeld with Palgrave. Elena also serves as the Culture Editor of Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture, and is currently working on several German-English translation projects including the writings of Magnus Hirschfeld and works by Carmen-Francesca Banciu.

Cosponsored by the Advanced Training in Greek Poetry Translation and Performance Workshop.

Eric Gordon, Emerson College and Harvard University
Meaningful Inefficiencies: Caring for Civics in an Age of Smart Cities
Monday, February 6, 2017 - 6:30pm
Room 133, Barker Center


The promise of the smart city is that big data and the internet of things transforms cities into efficient machines that are productive and usable. By collecting and analyzing civic data, and by installing sensors to collect even more data, government and citizens can make better decisions and take better actions, faster and cheaper. Potholes can be reported and filled more efficiently, social services can be provided more easily, and information can be shared more directly. But the Smart City is a rather rational proposition — where technological efficiency is the primary indicator of success. And yet, cities are comprised of both technological and human systems: streets, buildings, sewage, railroads, and cable lines are coupled with communities, neighborhoods, social networks, and personal relationships. The former is transactional, the latter is largely relational.

In this talk, I advocate for a counterpoint to the smart cities’ emphasis on efficiencies. Well designed human systems are indeed comprised of efficient transactions, but they should also include encounter, wonder, relation and caring, experiences largely absent from the smart city paradigm. Borrowing from game design, where players are provided with goals, and confronted with unnecessary obstacles that make their striving for that goal meaningful, I suggest that these meaningful inefficiencies are necessary for making a city smart. When there is room for play in the systems with which we interact, there is opportunity for people to form relationships, build trust, care for one another, and make shared meaning — all of which comprise the foundation for resilient communities.

As news cycles get shorter, government data collection faster, personal relationships become more transactional, and politics more sensational, there is need to rethink efficiency as the logic of smart cities. Distinct from mere inefficiencies, meaningful inefficiencies insert play, encounter and caring for, as necessary components in designing the systems of our future cities.

Past Events 2016 - 17

Carmen-Francesca Banciu, Levure Littéraire
Transforming Materiality into Immateriality through Play: Reflections on the Intersection of Literature and Art
Timothy Moore, Washington University in St. Louis
Ludic Music in Ancient Greek and Roman Theater
Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Poet and Artist
Crisis, Performance: Inter/multi/plays
Chrysostomos Stamoulis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Did Jesus Christ Laugh?
Shé Mackenzie Hawke, University of Sydney
The Play of Water from Mythic Metis to the Contemporary Beach: The Poetics of Aquamorphia

Past Events 2015 - 16

Mary Flanagan, Dartmouth College
Constance Rinaldo, Harvard University
Purposeful Gaming
Andromache Karanika, University of California, Irvine
Τhe Dissonance of Ludic Poetics in Greek 
Wedding Song Tradition: A Workshop on the "Interdiscursivity" between the Epithalamia and the Laments in Greek Antiquity
Franziska Naether, University of Leipzig
Casino Royale in Ancient Skyscrapers? On Recent Finds from Roman Tower Houses in Tuna el-Gebel (Egypt)
Danuta Fjellestad, Uppsala University
The Ludic Impulse in Post-Postmodern Fiction
Christian Gütl, Graz University of Technology
Johanna Pirker, Graz University of Technology
Crossing: Virtual Experiences, Games, and Teaching
Panos Panay, BerkleeICE
Creativity and Entrepreneurship
John Robinson-Appels, Columbia University
Comedy, Physicality, and Ludic Dance Gestures
Maria Zervos, Emerson College
The Interplay of Poetry and the Moving Image in the Art of Maria Zervos
Panos Bosnakis, Center of Avant-Garde Studies
The Greatest Mother of All that is Called Poetry
Dean Kostos, Award-Winning Poet
Scheme and Schemata: Endless Play

Past Events 2014 - 15

Zoa Alonso Fernández, Harvard University
Ludi, Ludic, Ludicrous: Choreographing Rome from Spartacus to Caligula
James N. Stone, Boston University
Playing Scrabble with Sappho: A Translation Workshop for Anyone Interested in the Interplay of Poetry, Translation, and Play
Mary Yossi, University of Athens
Laughter in Greek Lyric Poetry
Nicole Nolette, Harvard University
Games Translators Play in Bilingual French-Canadian Theater

Past Events 2013 - 14

Amy Ogata, Bard Graduate Center
Playing with Design: Cultivating Childhood Creativity in Postwar America
Brian Waniewski
Playing to Engage: How to Revitalize Society
Patrick Hutchinson, Brown University
Panayotis League, Harvard University
Tom Zajac, Wellesley College
Sounds from Europe's Margins: Bagpipes in Boston