Ludics focuses on the role of play in society, from antiquity to the present. Interdisciplinary at its core, this academic forum aims to foster an open dialogue among scholars through a variety of means, from paper presentations to interactive workshops, who are interested in exploring the concept of play across a broad spectrum of human culture, including science, education, theater, law, economy, and politics.

Upcoming Events

Miguel Angel Sicart, IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Play and the Machines
Monday, February 25, 2019 - 6:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center


We live in the information age, an historical moment defined by the ubiquitous presence of computers in our lives. In this talk I will inquire on the role that play has in shaping our experience of computers, from videogames and gamification to other forms of leisure. I will argue that play has a fundamental role in shaping the cultures of the information age, since computers are fundamentally playful machines. This talk will focus on the social, cultural, and ethical implications of this argument.


Miguel Sicart is an Associate Professor at the Center for Computer Games, IT University of Copenhagen. His research has focused on the ethics of digital games and game design. His more recent work explores the nature of play, with a particular interest in the ludic aspects of computational technologies. He is the author of The Ethics of Computer Games, Beyond Choices: The Design of Ethical Gameplay, and Play Matters (The MIT Press, 2009, 2013, 2014).

Shigehisa Kuriyama, Harvard University
How the Invention of New Games Could Revitalize the Humanities
Monday, April 1, 2019 - 6:00pm
Room 110, Barker Center


The majority of conferences and workshops are games with just two rules: the requirement to address a particular theme or topic, and a time limit. These rules have not served as well: the majority of conferences and workshops are dull, and most participants go mainly for the informal exchanges outside of the formal sessions. In my presentation, I propose to explore how devising new games with other rules might engender much livelier, more stimulating gatherings, and transform humanistic inquiry into a more communal activity.


Shigehisa Kuriyama received his A.B. degree from Harvard's Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations in 1977 and an A.M. degree in 1978. After completing acupuncture studies in Tokyo, he entered Harvard's Department of the History of Science, which awarded him a Ph.D. in 1986. He joined the Harvard faculty as Reischauer Professor in 2005 after previously working at the University of New Hampshire, Emory University, and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan. Kuriyama's research explores broad philosophical issues (being and time, representations and reality, knowing and feeling) through the lens of specific topics in comparative medical history (Japan, China, and Europe). His book, The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (Zone, 1999), received the 2001 William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and has been translated into Chinese, Greek, Spanish, and Korean. His recent work includes studies on the history of distraction, the imagination of strings in the experience of presence, the transformation of money into a palpable humor in Edo Japan, the nature of hiddenness in traditional Chinese medicine, and the web of connections binding ginseng, opium, tea, silver, and MSG. Kuriyama has also been actively engaged in expanding the horizons of teaching and scholarly communication through the creative use of digital technologies both at Harvard and at other universities in the US and abroad.

Past Events 2018 - 19

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University
Sport Matters: On Art, Social Artifice, and Athletics, or, the Politics of Sport

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
Sarah Green, State University of New York, Fredonia
How To Catch A Falling Knife: Poetic Play as the Practice of Negative Capability
Leslie Frost, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Don’t Be Mean" And Other Lessons from Federal Theatre Project Children’s Plays
Citizen Read
Whiteness/Blackness: Responses to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric and The White Card
Pierre Taminiaux, Georgetown University
Ludics as Transgression: From Surrealism to the Absurd to Pataphysics
Stephen Kidd, Brown University
Paidia: The Concept of Play in Ancient Greece
Zenovia Toloudi, Dartmouth College
Technoecologies: The Interplay of Space and its Perception
Marina Hatsopoulos, Founding CEO of Z Corporation
The Agon Within: New, Useful and Nonobvious

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