DEADLINE EXTENDED: Let the Games Begin: Sports and Pastimes in the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
OSU Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
contact email: 

On February 16-17, 2024, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will host its biennial celebration of Popular Culture and the Deep Past (PCDP) at the Ohio State University, with ‘Let the Games Begin!: Sports and Pastimes in the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds.’ As in past years, this event will feature a scholarly conference (with papers, round tables, and keynote lecturesby prominent scholars who will discuss a range of entertainments in their cultural and social contexts) nested within a Renaissance-faire-like carnival (featuring exhibits, gaming, contests, live demonstrations, and activities of all kinds).

Medieval and Renaissance games are alive in our world in unmissable and unseen ways. Many of us enjoy attending a medieval-style joust or playing video games with Renaissance storyworlds, while many of the most popular “modern” games, like chess and baseball, have pre-modern roots. By actively discussing and experiencing what they did (and we do) for pleasure and competition, we can get closer to these cultures and the lived, embodied experiences of their members, while reassessing their place in our contemporary popular imagination.

We seek papers from faculty, graduate students, and others that address any and all aspects of sports, games, and pastimes in medieval and early modern cultures. Topics might include entertainment and its representations from the courtly to the popular; their social, cultural, economic, gendered, and political dimensions; material and spatial artifacts and contexts; the relationship of modern and historical pastime; and the pleasures and perils of recreating historical games and sports. Speakers may also propose non-academic demonstrations. Our definition of 'sports' and 'pastimes' are intentionally broad to span activities from across the globe, inclusive of all genders, classes, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and cultures. 

Submission Guidelines: Conference presentations will generally be limited to 20 minutes duration, followed by 10 minutes of discussion; they will be organized thematically into sessions of three or four papers each. Other presentations, including music, dance, art, gaming, readings, and other activities or displays, will be accommodated more freely according to our resources of space and scheduling. Proposals for virtual presentation are welcome. Please send your presentation ideas to, including a title, abstract, and contact information. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and attached as either a Word document or PDF. Please also submit a short description/synopsis (50 words) that may be made public. We will begin evaluating proposals after Friday, December 1, 2023 and continue to receive submissions through December 31, though includsion will depend on remaining space in our schedule.