CfP for ASA 2017 -- Playing Against the Grain: Game Studies, American Studies, and Pedagogies of Dissent

Mahshid Mayar's picture
Call for Papers
January 15, 2017
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Childhood and Education, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Popular Culture Studies


Working Panel Proposal

Proposed by Mahshid Mayar

Date: 22.12.2016

With the CfP for the 2017 ASA focusing on pedagogies of dissent, I would like to propose a panel on the affinities of play and playfulness with learning and unlearning. At the heart of this panel proposal, perched at the intersection of game studies and American studies, are the following concepts:

  • Playfulness as the driving force behind dissent in learning environments
  • forms of American play as inherently dissenting and/or subversive on the noumenal/conceptual level, as Rachel Shields (2015) has argued
  • The pleasures and politics of rule-breaking, cheating, and walk-throughs in analogue and digital games
  • The American hacker and modder scene as dissent/re-learning
  • Historical aberrations in how games are played as un-learning and dissent
  • Inter-racial play and defiance toward race politics

Focusing on play as a cultural driver of human cultures, in the Huizingan sense of the term (1938), Playing Against the Grain intends to engage Americanists in discussions about historical and contemporary, conceptual and empirical forces of play which lend themselves to dissent, defiance, and subversiveness. From political language games to claiming urban backyards as playgrounds, and from modding the Fallout video game series to pirating best-seller titles such as Age of Empires, dissent is at the heart of play – examples and reflections of which abound in American life, past and present.

Young and established scholars in the field of American studies, game studies, media studies, history, sociology, and beyond are invited to submit their abstracts (300 words plus a 2-page CV) to by January 15, 2017.

The proposed panel will consist of 4 paper or poster presentations of 20 minutes each.

Selected contributors will be notified by January 25, 2017 at which time the panel will be submitted to the ASA.

For further information on the ASA 2017, which will take place in Chicago, please see

Information about my research and teaching interests can be found at


Contact Info: 

Mahshid Mayar

Postdoctoral Fellow/Assistant Professor

North American Literature and Culture

Bielefeld University, Germany