Recognizing Fair Play in American Narratives (26TH AISNA Biennial Conference)

deadline for submissions: 
June 27, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
AISNA (American Studies Association of Italy)
contact email: 

Recognizing Fair Play in American Narratives (26th AISNA Biennial Conference)

Coordinator: Cristina Di Maio, University of Macerata (

In January 2021, a large number of nerdy Reddit users hijacked the markets with the dual goal of
scoring individual profits and saving a struggling company beloved by all gamers: Gamestop. Thanks to the sudden surge in stock sales, Gamestop stocks became the most traded on the planet overnight. However, this clever financial maneuver provoked the backlash of institutional investors, who pressured Robinhood (the app through which small investors buy and sell shares) to halt purchases: in this way, the only players left in the field were the usual, professional Wall Street brokers.

This recent and controversial episode, so rich in ludic overtones, serves the purpose of introducing a crucial issue in contemporary culture on which this panel aims to reflect, in particular in the American context: the idea of fairness in play, and the recognition of the rules regulating its dynamics. The United States has in fact been defined by several scholars as a country in which play is pervasive, to the point of colonizing its political sphere (Huizinga, 1938), as well as its culture and literature (Oriard, 1991); yet, a certain balance of power and adherence to the normative code are required for play and games to be recognized as fair. Recognition of the rules and mutual respect for the other players’ performance are therefore key to the activation of a fair mode of playing; nonetheless, to what extent does playing fairly correspond to playing by the rules, when structural inequalities related to race, gender, class, and ethnicity contaminate the field?

This panel will address literary and cultural representations of fairness in play, focusing on the role of players vis-à-vis the rules and institutional frameworks. Themes may include, but are not limited to, the reversal of unfair societal dynamics through the theme of play in narratives; mutual recognition of players as fair/unfair. Paper proposals of around 300 words should be submitted, along with a short bio, to the panel coordinator, to the conference organizing committee (, and to the AISNA Secretary, Anna De Biasio ( by June 27, 2021. Acceptance will be notified by July 5, 2021. For any general query about the conference, please contact the organizing committee (

N.B.: We hope that we will be able to meet in L’Aquila for the 2021 AISNA conference.
However, should the COVID-19 crisis not allow safe traveling and participation in face-to-face events, the conference will move to a digital format (blended or fully online). We will keep you updated as to the developments of the pandemic and the applying public health guidelines.