Call for Papers: The F-Word: Fun, Agency, and Creativity as a Life Ethic

2024 CADN Graduate Student Conference, OCAD University

Submission Deadline: December 4, 2023

“Fun” is a dirty word — offensive to the professional expectation of seriousness, it connotes superficiality and triviality, and is often seen as a distraction from achieving success and respect. This ideal is created and upheld by the social conventions that structure our society, which dictate our notions of “appropriate” or “suitable” behaviour, as well as standards of respectability. In particular, these standards are unevenly applied to subjectivities that are regularly surveilled. Thus, fun becomes highly regulated and policed, an activity reserved for certain ages, genders, classes, and/or ethnicities.

Fun, however, contains the unfettered expression of agency and creativity. Fun — and by extension, play, as action derived from fun — produces affective, unregulated, self-actualizing experiences and spaces. Fun embraces and produces new relationships to the world, people, and things around us. Fun dissolves social hierarchies, roles, and rules, and sanctifies the free expression of individuals.

For artists, a certain measure of fun or play enriches the creative process, yet this can be discouraged, especially in academic work, because fun does not result in quantifiable progress. This may lead students and academics to become risk-averse and afraid of failing. Here, we ask, how is fun regulated and policed as we age? How can we center fun as a critical undercurrent to our lives and relationships, as well as our approaches to art-making, curation, and academic practices? How might fun be emphasized as a mode of political resistance or inquiry? What “new narratives of transgression”[1] can fun and play produce in art and creative practice?

With this, we invite submissions on the expressive potential of fun for our 2024 CADN Conference. Possible themes may include (but are not limited to):

  • The use (or lack thereof) of fun within academia
  • Fun in theory-making, art-making, curation, and other academic or creative methodologies
  • The regulation of fun as it relates to surveillance and control of policed subjectivities, including but not limited to femme-identifying and femme-bodied, Indigenous, racialized, queer and two-spirit, trans, working class, disabled, fat, sex worker, and criminalized individuals
    ◦  Respectability politics
  • Adult-ification, especially of BIPOC and AFAB persons, and the proverbial age limit placed on fun
    ◦  Ageism and fun
    ◦  Experiences of childhood and girlhood
  • Queer play, including drag culture, vogue, queer nightlife, techno music, club culture, and/or the queer resistances enacted at these sites
  • Fun and play as sites of resistance, refusal, and rebellion
  • Fun and play as critical undercurrents of the creative process
  • Fun through self-expression, such as fashion (camp, drag, Y2K, coquette, cottagecore, Barbiecore, bimbo aesthetics, fairycore, alternative style), nail design, hair design, makeup, rave culture
  • The recent resurgence of camp and camp aesthetics
  • Humour, irony, frivolity, childishness, playfulness as possible modes of inquiry
  • Cosplay, roleplaying, playing mas, and other forms of embodied fantasy
  • Improvisation as creative methodology
  • Fun and play as self-care
  • Post-pandemic critiques, restrictions, and enactments of play
  • Queer and BIPOC critiques of academic emphasis on productivity
  • Visions and interpretations of what fun looks like in academic spaces
  • Internet fun and its enactments in the world, such as memes, social media communication, language, codes
  • Fun and play within art, literature, and performance, and/or their creative processes
  • Critiques and approaches to fun in the digital sphere

What to submit: Submissions can take the form of written or video essays, research papers, short stories, and other forms of creative writing. Please submit a 250 word abstract or proposal, a short biography, and (optional) up to five (5) images and/or five (5) minutes of video.

Please submit texts as .docx or .pdf files. Accepted candidates will be notified by email.

Submission Deadline: December 4, 2023

For additional information or questions, please contact:
CADN Conference Team

For information on past CADN Conferences click here.

OCAD University
100 McCaul Street
(416) 977-6000

Instagram @cadn_ocadu

1. Cathy Thomas, “Black Femme Rising: Cosplay and Playing Mas as New Narratives of Transgression,” American Journal of Play 13, no. 2-3 (2021).