Ludic Cultures, 1100-1700

Series introduction

The Card Players, after Lucas van Leyden, c. 1550/1599, National Gallery of Art

The Card Players, after Lucas van Leyden, c. 1550/1599, National Gallery of Art

Ludic Cultures treats medieval and early modern play in all its innumerable eccentricities. Building on the work of Johan Huizinga, as well as that of Roger Caillois and Bernard Suits, these monographs and essay collections conceive of play as a phenomenon that extends well beyond leisure activities and child's play, finding expression in virtually every facet of cultural production. The series promotes the documentation of complex cultural practices that have thus far eluded traditional disciplinary models. These interdisciplinary works make visible varieties of thought and action that until recently seemed impossible to trace, while contributing to growing interest in what Huizinga once rightly called “the play element of culture.”

Keywords: Ludic, cultural history, social history, history of games and play, board games studies, cultural production, medieval and early modern games.

Geographical Scope: Western Europe and the Americas

Chronological Scope: 1100-1700

The series welcomes the submission of both monographs and essay collections that view cultures in Europe and the Americas between 1100 and 1700 through the lens of play.

To submit a proposal or completed manuscript to be considered for publication by Medieval Institute Publications or to learn more about the series, please contact our publications office.

See forthcoming titles in this series.


Cover of Playthings in Early Modernity: Party Games, Word Games, Mind Games: an early modern image of a woman and two men playing a card game.

Playthings in Early Modernity: Party Games, Word Games, Mind Games

By Allison Levy

An innovative volume of fifteen interdisciplinary essays at the nexus of material culture, performance studies, and game theory, Playthings in Early Modernity emphasizes the rules of the game(s) as well as the breaking of those rules. Thus, the titular "plaything" is understood as both an object and a person, and play, in the early modern world, is treated not merely as a pastime, a leisurely pursuit, but as a pivotal part of daily life, a strategic psychosocial endeavor.

LC Monograph 1, ISBN 978-1-58044-260-2 (clothbound), 978-1-58044-261-9 (PDF) © 2017

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Forthcoming in this series

Material Culture & Games of Chance in the Early Modern Netherlands

By Jessen Lee Kelly

This study offers the first sustained study of games of chance in early modern Europe. Focusing on ludic material culture in the Low Countries, Jessen Kelly argues that, prior to the consolidation of mathematical probability in the seventeenth century, artifacts served as primary instruments for negotiating chance and uncertain futures.