University of Virginia: ‘Leisure, Enjoyment, and Fun’

University of Virginia
March 14-17, 2013

Leisure! Enjoyment! Fun!

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” It was the age of pleasure. It was the age of atonement. It was any place in the nineteenth century. The scope is global, the approaches, cross-disciplinary. What pleased the palate and tickled the nose? What roused the senses and deepened joy? What thrilled the body and inspired the mind? What did they do besides work? What diversions (respectable or otherwise) did they seek? How did they think about the enjoyments they sought? These are some of the questions to address at INCS 2013, which is devoted to ‘Leisure, Enjoyment, and Fun.’

Consider all forms of enjoyment desired, sought, anticipated, or suppressed. Of course what constitutes enjoyment was widely contested ‘then’ as it is ‘now,’ and just what the relation between enjoyment and happiness is has never been clear. The task we set ourselves this year is an examination of various pleasures, thoughts about fun and leisure, expressions or reports of enjoyment, and what these experiences tell us about the nineteenth century. Definitions of enjoyment are themselves numerous and contrasting, and we will keep the field broad so as to draw a wide catch. Enjoyment may be associated with entertainment, amusement, comfort, satisfaction, happiness, absence of pain, etc. We are interested in how enjoyment is experienced, what function it serves, how it can be legislated or monitored, if it can be exhausted, repeated, repelled, and whether individual enjoyment differs from enjoyment shared.

Topics are not limited to, but might include:

Ambivalence towards . . . Weddings, parties, picnics
Theories of leisure Spectacle
Enjoyment, guilt, atonement Dance
License and restraint Cartoons, comic periodicals,
Sport, games, and races Sunday Papers, and other
Music, music halls, music boxes Popular Reading
Festivals, street entertainments Pets, animal fighting
Pleasure Gardens Experimentation, invention
Illicit fun Gardens and Horticulture
Design, fashion, shopping Collecting
Gustatory delights Museums, exhibitions
Trade in exotics Training for fun
Hobbies Medical Tourism

Deadline: November 1, 2012. For individual papers, send 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual 250-word proposals for each paper plus a 250-word panel description. Please include your name, affiliation, and e-mail address on your proposal. Send questions and proposals to Karen Chase (


About Sarah Sage

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