"Here You Leave Today": Time & Temporality in Theme Parks (International Conference, 18-20 September 2014, Mainz, Germany)

full name / name of organization: 
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (Germany)

Since the 1980s theme parks have been the object of critical analysis for a large variety of disciplines, from (popular) culture studies, ethnology, and anthropology to architecture, (popular) history, and tourism studies. These analyses have focused on a broad range of aspects of theme parks, including, most recently, processes of branding as well as the parallels between theme parks and other themed environments, such as hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. By contrast, aspects of time and temporality, in spite of their central role in the production and perception of theme parks, have been comparatively neglected by critics. Theme parks, which as genuine heterotopias are distinct from the rest of the world also in temporal matters, are indeed governed by their own temporality, which results from the interaction of the themes selected by the park, the individual form elements used to bring these themes to life, the speed variations that are inherent in any visit to a theme park (mechanical accelerations and decelerations in rides, waiting lines), and the visitors' perceptions.
This conference, which will take place from September 18 to September 20, 2014, at Johannes Gutenberg University (Mainz, Germany), seeks to gather papers from a variety of disciplines on all matters concerning the production and perception of such "aesthetic proper times" in theme parks and related environments. Among the confirmed speakers are Astrid Böger, Mark Gottdiener, Cornelius Holtorf, and Scott A. Lukas. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to the following:
- Representation and perception of different temporal levels (past and future);
- Representations of specific temporal levels (especially historical periods) in different theme parks / themed environments (including their evolution over time);
- The political and cultural processes underlying the choice to represent specific temporal levels (especially historical periods);
- The material ways in which different temporal levels are produced and represented in themed environments;
- The interrelationship between formal elements and temporal structures;
- The theme park approach to temporality in the context of postmodern aesthetics;
- The multitemporality of the theme park in connection with other forms of postmodern popular culture;
- Comparisons of the approaches to temporality of theme parks and their historical precedents (Vauxhalls, amusement parks, world's and county fairs, etc.).
Please send a 300-word abstract and a short CV by email to Filippo Carlà (Carla@uni-mainz.de) and Florian Freitag (freitagf@uni-mainz.de) by March 1, 2014.