You are here: Home Veranstaltungen Tagungen & Konferenzen | Conferences

Tagungen & Konferenzen | Conferences

Queer (Second) Cities

August 30-31, 2023 | Online

The molly houses of London, the lesbian salons of Paris, the queer club scene of Berlin: LGBTQIA2S+ spaces are frequently considered urban and Western by default. Queer community in physical space is therefore often mapped onto a very limited number of metropolises, pushing rural queerness, the global South, queer periphery and queer second cities to the margins. Jack Halberstam’s critique of metronormativity (In a Queer Time and Place, 2005) as “the conflation of ‘urban’ and ‘visible’ in many normalizing narratives of gay/lesbian subjectivities” (36) can thus be further specified as referring to particular kinds of urban spaces and excluding others. In this symposium, we invite you to share your research on queer spaces outside of or on the margins of the metropolis, the communities that build and use these spaces, the infrastructures and practices they employ to do so, the cultures that shape queer second cities, and the ways in which all of the above are portrayed in literature, audiovisual media, the news, visual arts and any other media. Vice versa, we are also interested in how queer discourses and narratives shape urban and non-urban space.

Where the term ‘second city’ may describe inferiority in relation to a first, primary, or alpha city along quantifiable terms such as population, economic production, or city size, we use the term akin to Ameel, Finch and Salmela’s wider definition in Literary Second Cities (2017): “Secondary cities have become increasingly defined in terms of their function, their relationships with metropolitan and other urban centers, as well as in terms of the specific kinds of urban experiences they enable” (6). Queer second cities may then be cities that are less prominent than capital cities but well-known for being hubs of LGBTQIA2S+ communities: Philadelphia, Brighton, Cologne, Montreal, São Paulo, Bologna, or Portland. Or they could be relatively small cities, towns, or villages with an extremely high queer population, such as Cherry Grove on Fire Island, Skala Eressos on Lesvos, Hebden Bridge or Provincetown. There may also be a link between post-industrial cities, such as Manchester, Leeds, and Portsmouth, and queerness. Tel Aviv, Taipei or Bangkok are capital (and thereby ‘first’) cities that are well-known for their queer communities but are, despite their size and status, frequently marginalized as non-Western. Quintana-Vallejo (2021) additionally suggests a link between queer diasporic writing and second cities.

We also want to explore potential feminist and gender transgressive notions of the ‘second’, relating ‘second cities’ to Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949) and Butler’s reading of Beauvoir as providing a new and radical understanding of gender and gender performance. Thought of as a verb, ‘to second’ can express support and agreement, bringing community and unity back to a term that may otherwise sound deceptively binary. We invite you to think of queer second cities as any spatial configurations that transgress, queer and question normative assumptions and majority-oriented positions, including rural and peripheral geographies.


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Davy Knittle (University of Delaware) and Jas M. Morgan (Toronto Metropolitan University)


Ameel, Lieven; Jason Finch and Markku Salmela. Literary Second Cities. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Vintage Classics, 2015.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge, 1990.

Halberstam, Jack. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. NYU Press, 2005.

Quintana-Vallejo, Ricardo. “Mapping Queer Diasporas in Literary Second Cities: Benjamín Alire
Sáenz, Gabby Rivera, and Ocean Vuong.” Literary Geographies 7.2 (2021): 275-291.


CaP Banner

Culture at Play: Avatars, Players, and Others

March 10-11, 2023 | Zoom

Scholarly work on video games has often located a major part of the player experiences within the exploration of gameworlds. This was one of the main frameworks under which the last year’s conference, Culture at Play: Spaces - Colours - Stories, offered a platform for an interdisciplinary discussion of video games.

In this follow-up, Culture at Play: Avatars, Players, and Others, we aim to focus on the characters as interlocutors of these much-investigated environments by shifting the debate on the relationships between players and the characters they take the roles of, as well as those they encounter during play.


Keynote speakers: 

Richard Bartle (University of Essex), Lena Falkenhagen (UE Hamburg), Sarah Stang (Brock University)


Conference program:


10:00-11:00 Keynote
Richard Bartle (University of Essex)
“Anti-Social Consequences of Social Play”
Panel 1: Limbo is Other People - Game Design and Tools for Affect and Immersion
Chair: Undine Remmes
11:00-11:20  Angelina Skuratova (Paderborn University)
“Re-living the Eternal Present: An Exploration of (Narrative) Loops in Video Games”
11:20-11:40 Zlatko Bukač and Emilia Musap (University of Zadar)
“Fear and Anxiety in Louisiana: Affects and Immersion in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”
11:40-12:00 Alesha Serada (University of Vaasa)
“Not Actual Gameplay: Affective Non-Playable Characters in Match-3 Game
12:00-12:30 Panel Discussion
12:30-13:30 Lunch Break
Panel 2: Cistemic Spectrum - Topics of Gender and Fluidity
Chair: Maria Sulimma
13:30-13:50 Anja Gödl (University of Innsbruck)
“A Female Rabbit Called Bonbon and a Male Lion Called Elvis: Gender Theoretical
Analysis of the Naming of Characters in Animal Crossing New Horizons”
13:50-14:10 Rebecca Käpernick (University of Oldenburg)
“Girls who Run the (End of the) World - Female Protagonists and Side-Kicks in
Post-Apocalyptic Video Games”
14:10-14:30 Jasmin Bieber (University of Konstanz)
“Who is Controlling the Heart?”: Non-Binary Identities and Troubled Player Agency in
14:30-15:00 Panel Discussion
15:00-15:30 Coffee Break
15:30-16:30 Keynote
Sarah Stang (Brock University)
“Identity, Embodiment, and Monstrosity: Playing as the Nonhuman Other”
16:30 - 17:00 Coffee Break
Panel 3: The Borderlands - Fleeing (into) Society
Chair: Jennifer Howard
17:00.17:20 Marie Zarda (Philipps-University Marburg)
“‘There Was No Country For People Like Me!’: Ideologies and Identities of Bioshock’s
Carolin Becklas (University of Oldenburg)
“Playing ‘Climate Refugees’ in Frostpunk”
17:40-18:00 Marko Jevtic (University of Konstanz)
“Between Interactivity and Activism: Identity Tourism and the 'Playful Translations' of
(Radical) Resistance”
18:00-18:30 Panel Discussion
19:00-21:00 Two Simultaneous Sessions
Workshop 1: Creating Desired Characters. Host: Florian Schäfer
Workshop 2: Let’s Play Multiplayer ‘Party’ Games. Host: Janna Kaiser


10:00-11:00 Keynote
Lena Falkenhagen (UE Hamburg)
“‘Who am I?’ Player-collaboration in Digital Games”
Panel 4: “Despite everything, it’s still you.” - Tropes of Character Development
Chair: Andreas Rauscher
11:00-11:20 Fiona Schönberg (Mainz University)
“‘This is my Story, and it will go the way I want it!’”
11:20-11:40 Ted Richthofen (University of Bonn)
“Niko Bellic: ‘The Gangster as Tragic Hero,’ Criminal Embodiment and Capitalist
Escapism in Grand Theft Auto IV”
11:40-12:00 Carmel Anne Abela (Nagoya University)
“Rethinking the Player Character as an Outsider: a Different Perspective on the
Playing Experience and Its Implications”
12:00-12:30 Panel Discussion
12:30-13:30 Lunch Break
Panel 5: Bravely Default - Breaking From or Adhering To Normativity
Chair: Ece Ergin
13:30-13:50 Agata Waszkiewicz and Robin Longobardi Zingarelli(University of Lublin/Institute of
Digital Games, Malta)
“Emergence of Non-Binary Identities in Video Games: a Discourse Analysis
13:50-14:10 Xuan Truong (University of Freiburg)
“The Feminine Alternate: An Examination of ‘Default’ Avatar Genders in Role Playing
Video Games”
14:10-14:30 Aska Mayer (Aalto University)
“Transmutation and Mimicry. Shapeshifting Avatars as Spatial Reaction and Modes
of Alienation”
14:30-15:00 Panel Discussion
15:00-15:30 Coffee Break
15:30-16:30 Kübra Aksay, Andreas Rauscher, Undine Remmes (University of Freiburg)
“Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Virtual Spaces”:
Poster presentation followed by roundtable discussion
16:30 - 17:00 Coffee Break
Panel 6: Choose your fighter! - Representation and Perspectives as Design-Tools
Chair: Sarah Busch
17:00-17:20 Tobias Weißer (PH Ludwigsburg)
“Nikolay Dybowski's Pathologic as a Hypertextual Contemplation on Modernity and
17:20-17:40 Nour Habib (University of Freiburg)
“Gender and Race Representation in Tekken”
17:40-18:00 Panel Discussion


Conference Dinner (On-Site, in Freiburg)



To register as an audience member please send an email to  indicating your name and institution.


Presentation abstracts:

Please find the PDF-Version of the presentation abstracts here.


About the conference:

Culture at Play: Avatars, Players, and Others is an international conference organized by the English Department at the University of Freiburg, and a follow-up to last year’s Culture at Play: Spaces – Colours – Stories in Digital Games. The conference series aims to open up a space that allows for sophisticated, critical analyses of video games and the cultural field that has emerged around them using an interdisciplinary approach that includes cultural, literary, and media studies.

The conference will take place on March 10 - 11, 2023 via Zoom.

Organizing Committee: Kübra Aksay, Janna Kaiser, Florian Schäfer


Previous iterations:

The conference proceedings of Culture at Play: Spaces – Colours – Stories in Digital Games were compiled by Sofia Guimarães, Dion Weidenhammer and Larissa Rell and published in Paidia - Zeitschrift für Computerspielforschung on April 27, 2022. You can access the proceedings (in German) here.

The Long Night of Anglicists

Long Night of AnglicistsNovember 25, 4-10 pm | Online

On the 25th of November, the Long Night of Anglicists will take place! Brace yourselves for an evening full of lectures, workshops, and presentations prepared by English teachers from all over Poland. This is a unique event and the main goal is to show the thoughts and scientific potential of English studies in Poland, as well as to unravel myth that English studies is only about language learning.

There will be plenty of online events to attend and participation is free for everyone. To find out more about the specific lectures, workshops, and presentations, please visit the event's website.

Connectivity and its Other | International Conference

July 2, 2022


The ubiquity of digital connectivity and the subsequent diminishing of human connection have become truths of our time. This conference starts with the assumption that digital overload takes a toll on people’s ability to connect meaningfully with themselves or with others. As many studies have shown hyperconnectivity can lead to self-centered thinking, narrow-mindedness, and a lack of empathy. The attendant mindset can and often does propel contemptuous forms of social interaction.

While the downsides and risks of hyperconnectivity are well known and widely lamented, contemporary media criticism explores moments of “digital disentanglement,” i.e. users' deliberate strategies to disconnect. This would constitute a resistance or alternative to hyperconnectivity. The “other” of hyperconnectivity then does not only refer to forms of othering (e.g. cyberhate and populist vitriol), which drive polarization and undermine democratic and civil culture.

In this conference we will examine already existent counter-strategies such as digital minimalism, digital self-defense and the digital detox movement as well as the booming mindfulness movement and the emerging academic field of critical digital literacy that train (mental) skills to curtail the harmful effects of hyperconnectivity.

Organized by Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke




From Racial Polarization to Black Liberation | Symposium

February 3, 2021 | Online

Polarization/Liberation SymposiumProf. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke and Luvena Kopp, M.A. are the organizers of a symposium which looks into the current Black movement, its repercussions and its potential to further social transformation. Guest speakers will be Priscilla Layne, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Dr. Nicole Hirschfelder (University of Tübingen), and Courtney Moffett-Bateau, M.A. (University of Bremen).

Black Lives Matter has become the rallying cry of the largest protest movement in U.S. history. As people from various nations and races have joined its protests, the movement has become an indispensable force of social change. This comes at a time of extreme polarization, propelled by increasing political partisanship, wherein rising levels of violence, animosity, and contempt towards members of the other group exacerbate divisions in U.S. society. The recent upsurge of Black Lives Matter, in an era of COVID-19, exposes long-standing racial as well as economic polarization. Expediting the structures of neoliberal capitalism, the pandemic reinforces the precarity of the many while increasing profits for the few. As the pandemic converges with a tradition of racist police brutality, Black lives are the main victims of a dual crisis.

The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement links the struggle for Black liberation to a broader struggle for systemic change. "Black liberation," Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reminds us in From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, "is bound up with the project of human liberation and social transformation."


Law and Literature from a Narratological Perspective | International Conference

May 6 – 8, 2021 | Online

Organized by Prof. Dr. Monika Fludernik and Prof. Dr. Frank L. Schäfer. A program from the conference can be found here.

26th EARS Meeting (English and American Rhenish Scholars)

December 3, 2021 | Université Haute-Alsace Mulhouse
Following the meeting, a festive dinner at the Auberge du Zoo was offered by the UHA

Culture at Play: Spaces – Colours – Stories in Digital Games

March 4 – 5, 2022 | Online

Over the last few decades, video games have left their marginal position in culture and turned into a central experience that holds a permanent place in the lives of many people.

At the same time, they have also grown ever more sophisticated in content as well as audio-visual quality.

As a result, it is not only increasingly important to give them the serious consideration they deserve, but also that this happens in a manner that can do justice to their unique, multimedia mode of expression.

The conference is aiming to open up a space that allows for a sophisticated analysis of video games and the cultural field that has emerged around them using an interdisciplinary approach that includes, cultural, literary, and media studies.

You can find the program for the event, which will be continuously updated, here.