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

Sarah Green, State University of New York, Fredonia
Mischief as Muse: Play in the Making of Songs and Poetry
Monday, February 26, 2018 - 7:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center


David Rivard


In this paper, two award winning poets discuss how detaching from outcome while simultaneously following desire, allows for generativity in music and poetry. Drawing on Dean Young’s statement according to which “Art is the act of making choices in a charged field,” they explain how play works for them as a vehicle for finding the right degree of passionate force and trusting receptivity while making/investigating or how play is a nondual or even an androgynous mode or how it interrupts the duality of doing and being.


Sarah Green is the author of Earth Science (421 Atlanta, 2016). Her previous chapbook, Skeleton Evenings (Finishing Line Press, 2015) won the 2014 New Women’s Voices prize. Poems of hers have appeared in Best New Poets 2012, the Incredible Sestina Anthology, Pleiades, FIELD, Passages North, Mid-American Review, Gettysburg Review, Redivider, Ruminate, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize winner, she holds both an MFA and Ph.D. in Poetry. Sarah has 14 years of creative writing teaching experience, in settings ranging from higher ed (Oberlin College, Emerson College) to nonprofits (Grub Street, The Loft Literary Center) to artists' retreats in France and Italy. Enthusiastic about engaging with students at all experience levels and coming from all styles, as an instructor she emphasizes play, intuition, precision, and musicality. She is currently compiling a multi-genre anthology called Welcome To The Neighborhood.

David Rivard’s most recent book, Standoff, was given the 2017 PEN New England Award in Poetry and was listed by The New Yorker in its “Books We Loved in 2016” roundup. His five other books include Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, and Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. A recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and the NEA, he teaches in the MFA in Writing program at the University of New Hampshire.

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

Leslie Frost, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Don’t Be Mean" And Other Lessons from Federal Theatre Project Children’s Plays
Monday, March 19, 2018 - 6:30pm
Room 133, Barker Center


Whimsical and imaginative moments lighten the generally didactic and unabashedly earnest children’s plays of the Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939). Written, staged, and performed by adults, and with a mission to employ out-of-work theater professionals, the plays, were designed to educate and entertain. They were performed on theatrical stages, as well as in parks, hospitals, and orphanages and were popular with adults and children. Many were topical and a smaller number were overtly political. I am particularly interested in exploring how the idea of children’s play inflects plays immersed in Popular Front ideology. There were dancing penguins and polar bears in an anti-fascist play where looming shadows of soldiers with guns threaten children’s dreams. Brightly costumed roller skating beavers opened a Marxist fairy tale where the evil Chief menaces poor kids from the city: “I’m going to teach you the biggest lesson there is! And the lesson is – for a hundred years – you’re gonna get killed every day starting tomorrow!” Threatening tigers were bopped on the nose by an intrepid boy “just like Joe Louis” in a re-imagined The Story of Little Black Sambo. How does this all play out in the highly charged political atmosphere of the WPA?


Leslie Frost is a teaching associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In Dreaming America: Popular Front Ideals an Aesthetics in Children’s Plays of the Federal Theatre Project (2013) Frost traces the how the tumultuous politics of the late 1930s shaped the stories and staging of Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939) children’s plays. In 2016, Frost adapted and produced the Federal Theatre Project’s It Can’t Happen Here for an anniversary staged reading at Historic Playmakers Theatre at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is currently working on a project centered on New Deal U.S. Post Office murals.

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

Pierre Taminiaux, Georgetown University
Ludics as Transgression: From Surrealism to the Absurd to Pataphysics
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 6:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center


In my talk, I will present my own work as a playwright, which stands at the intersection between surrealism, the absurd and pataphysics. I will establish esthetic and philosophical distinctions between these three literary schools and movements. But I will also stress the fact that they are never mutually exclusive: instead, they complement each other in the creation of an original language that exceeds the boundaries of realism and rationalism.

I will then study the issue of ludics by showing that it holds a definite power of trangression. This transgression is both of a linguistic and of a political nature. In my perspective, ludics necessarily includes a form of critical thinking that engages the theatrical text within the community and radically questions the values and the norms of both the social order and mainstream culture.


PIERRE TAMINIAUX is a Professor of 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Literature at Georgetown University. He is the author of several scholarly books, including Robert Pinget, The Paradox of Photography, Littératures Modernistes et Arts d’Avant-Garde, Du Surréalisme à la Photographie Contemporaine: au Croisement des Arts et de la Littérature and L’Ellipse et le Cercle: Art, Poésie, Politique. He is also the author of seven plays, a novel and two poetry volumes.

Stephen Kidd, Brown University
Paidia: The Concept of Play in Ancient Greece
Monday, April 16, 2018 - 6:30pm
Room 133, Barker Center


Greek paidia is different from the English “play.” While English speakers tend to think of play as an activity that is engaged in for pleasure—as if by partaking in certain activities called “play,” for example, rolling dice or jumping rope, a player might trigger some sort of pleasure reward—paidia was conceived to be a feeling of pleasure that spills over into the physical manifestations of that pleasurable feeling. “Joy” and “delight” cause people to “dance” (a common denotation of paizō), “sing” (also a common denotation of paizō), and engage in other forms of play like balancing a stick, throwing a ball, and rolling dice. It is not that singing, dancing, and playing are results of “joy” and “delight,” but rather that they just are forms of “joy” and “delight.”

This slight distinction in meaning between the English “play” and Greek paidia has far-reaching consequences if we consider, for example, that Plato, in late works like the Sophist, Statesman, and Laws, turns to “play” as a category embracing all painting, sculpture, theater, music, and dance, or if we consider that Aristotle repeatedly feels a need to respond to these discussions, for example, in Nicomachean Ethics 10 and Politics 8. Paidia for these authors is not some colloquial term for mimesis—as is too often supposed—but a different concept altogether. As such, it offers a new set of theoretical challenges: if paidia is to be conceived as some pleasure mode, and art is to be conceived as a form of paidia, how can the wide variety of art objects, media and games be understood as emanating from that singular form of pleasure?


Stephen Kidd specializes in Greek literature of the classical period, especially comedy and philosophy. His first book Nonsense and Meaning in Ancient Greek Comedy (Cambridge, 2014) asks why comedy, unlike other genres, gives rise to the perception that some part of it is not meaningful (“just silly,” “just funny”) despite the fact that new meanings continue to be discovered year after year. Now he is writing a book tentatively entitled Paidia: The Concept of Play in Ancient Greek Thought which asks the question how did play and aesthetics – a relationship often wrestled with by modern play theorists – become separated in the first place? The primary authors are Plato and Aristotle, but attention is also given to the nuts and bolts of games, toys, and ancient child psychology (which provides the pais of paizo). He has also written on the meanings of Greek words, dreams, science, and what Herodotus has to say about virtual worlds.

Zenovia Toloudi, Dartmouth College
Technoecologies: The Interplay of Space and its Perception
Monday, April 30, 2018 - 6:30pm
Room 133, Barker Center


Based on the current Technoecologies exhibition at the Storrs Gallery, College of Arts + Architecture, UNC Charlotte, this talk reconceives the relationship between humans and their environment in architecture through prototypes and models that explore emerging forms of bioarchitecture, living systems, and evolving environments. Technoecologies exhibition proposes a metabolic architecture as a provocative alternative approach, being manifested by speculative yet tangible ways. Metabolic architecture is contemplated here both literally, and metaphorically. Literally, it deals with material transformations caused by either growth or decay of organic matter. Metaphorically, it relates to immaterial transformations of light or sound caused by environmental or artificial stimuli. Through these processes, metabolism within architecture becomes an apparatus that produces constant changes in form, space, and in user perception.

By bridging the gap between technophilia and technophobia, Technoecologies projects root into tradition and society to reinterpret in contemporary terms past history, culture, and traditional habits. With examples ranging from artificial sonic gardens and living wall prototypes to interactive models of seed banks, Technoecologies projects examine processes of material transformation, eventually generating a series of themes for architecture to consider, such as laboratory experimentation, objectification of nature, temporality and theatricality, the vernacular and cultural, modular and infrastructural elements, vulnerability and voyeurism, autonomy and complexity, as well as user participation. This exploration forms both a theory and a design approach, which subsequently advocate how art, technology, and architecture might progressively transform the environment, society, and culture.


Zenovia Toloudi is architect, artist, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Studio Art, Dartmouth College. Her work critiques the contemporary alienation of humans from nature and sociability in architecture and in public space, and investigates spatial typologies to reestablish cohabitation, inclusion and participation through digital, physical, and organic media. The founder of Studio Z, a creative research practice on art, architecture and urbanism, Zenovia has exhibited internationally, including at the Biennale in Venice, the Center for Architecture, the Athens Byzantine Museum, the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Onassis Cultural Center. She has won commissions from Illuminus Boston, and The Lab at Harvard. Zenovia's work belongs to permanent collections at Aristotle University (AUTh), and the Thracian Pinacotheca.

Past Events 2017 - 18

Yiorgos Anagnostou, Ohio State University
Immigrant Poetics
Catalina Florina Florescu, Pace University
The Interplay of Ekphrastic Readings of Femininity Post-Mastectomy
Danielle Freedman, Independent Scholar
How many ‘Ακρόπολη’s (Acropolis’s)? Nikolaos Kalas' ‘Ακρόπολη’ (Acropolis)
Vladimir Bošković, Independent Scholar
Taming the Tyche: From Surrealist Games to Austere Style in European Modernism

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
Elena Mancini, Queens College in New York City
Reflections on Playful Prose and the Art of Translation
Eric Gordon, Emerson College and Harvard University
Meaningful Inefficiencies: Caring for Civics in an Age of Smart Cities
Elsa Amanatidou, Brown University
Playing with Narratives: Digital Storytelling and Intercultural Interventions in the L2 Classroom
Anna Winestein, Harvard University, Boston University
Transmental Games and Travestied Experiments: Costumed Balls, Cross-Dressing, Role-Playing, Theatricality, and More Among Russian Artists in Paris 1870-1930
Aikaterini Ioannidou, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Play of Forces: From Atoms to Cities
Ani Gjika, Poet, Literary Translator, Teacher
Playing Both Sides: Where Language Teaching and Creative Literary Translation Intersect

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