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Matthew Wakeman

About my Research

I am interested in looking at interior 'table' games in England in the Tudor period. People have seemingly always played at all stages in history but I believe that there is a significant shift in terms of the types and quantity of games that are introduced to England at this time. Changes in economic and social factors throughout Europe appear to create a place for more time and money to spent on something which is often seen as something purely frivolous. Games offer some unique values in terms of their spatial attributes as well as attracting condemntaion for how they deal with fortune and luck.

Although at this stage of my research the topic and location are quite broad initial research has shown that there are possibilities for looking at how games are seen within the everyday life of local communities.

About me

I graduated from Cardiff in 2004 with a BA in English Literature before undertaking my Masters at the Shakespeare Institute in 2006. My dissertation was on 'The Reflective Relationship between Society and Games' and I am hopeful that my research here at Warwick under the expert tutelage of Professor Beat Kümin will extend and expand the work that I began with my MA.

PostGraduate Conference (5/2013)

In May I presented a paper at Warwick's Postgraduate conference which I found both useful and highly enjoyable. It was a real pleasure to be around so many people delivering informative papers with such enthusiasm. The abstract for my paper was:

Games Legislation in Early Modern England

Though games have long been present in society, it was the Tudor period in early modern England that there was a surge in legislation concerning them. How the law changed in relation to games reflected the shifting status of games as they altered and developed. The nature of games changed from being no more than a distraction, to something which was illegal until by the end of this period they became something not only playing a part in a potential leisure industry, but a largely accepted way of passing the time. The inconsistencies in how games were perceived and dealt with at various
levels in English society show how games were being constantly interrogated in light of the larger social forces at play. Who was allowed to play games and where they could be played was constantly unstable, as was the type of games readily accessible to the period. The history of the legislation of games within the Tudor period was one of differing levels of both concentration and intensity as neither games, nor the other elements in society remained the same.

Upgrade (6/2013)

After working with Professor Kümin I successfully passed my upgrade process which included a very stimulating and useful discussion with both Dr. Gabriel Glickman and Dr Jonathan Davies. I have been refining the overall structure of my work and are currently planning where I will begin my archive and primary source search.

A brief chapter overview is as follows:

1) Introduction - to provide context and an overall survey of the period as well as clearly defining the range and breadth of my research.

2) Game Types - A survey of games of the period as well as looking at what games were being used for as there is evidence of game materials being used in education for example.

3) Legislation - Chronicle legislation concerning games to understand fluctuations in how often games came to the attention of law makers. I also wish to see the extent to which a possible disconnect existed between the centre and the periphery in terms of actually enforcing the laws surrounding games.

4) A Society of Leisure? - Investigte the concepts of leisure and recreation in the period and see how much games featured. I also wish to look at how space, time and gender interact with games.

5) Economics - Monopolies and licenses for both game materials as well as locations were issued under Elizabeth I but I also wish to see how the economic changes which occurred were mirrored in games. Credit, joint-stock companies and conceptions of risk-management will all be considered.

6) Religious Impact on Games - What was the Catholic church's attitude towards games pre-Reformation? Though religion and games / leisure are commonly linked via the Puritans I wish to investigate religious attitudes pre and post the momentous religious transformation which this period went through.

XVIIth Annual Colloquium of the International Board Game Studies Association

Wednesday 21st - Saturday 24th May 2014 hosted by UCS Ipswich

'From Cardboard to Keyboard and back'

I am delighted to say that I have been offered the opportunity to deliver a paper at this year's Board Game Society Colloquium. In it I will be discussing the development of games legislation from the national level via statutes and proclamations and how these were being enforced at the local level via leet courts and quarter sessions. I also wish to use some examples from privy accounts and household books to show quite how much game playing was going on even whilst legislation around them was fluctating.

There is more information on the colloquium available at:
Thursday 5 May 2014 - Medieval and Tudor London Seminar Group at the Institute of Historical Research

Games Legislation and Licensing in Early Modern England

I was fortunate enough to be invited to present a paper at the Institute of Historical Research in London on how legislation concerning gaming houses, monopolies and licenses on games reveal the extent to which games were a feature of early modern life and especially in the capital. It was a very receptive audience which had many questions and I am grateful to the seminar group for how warmly they welcomed and treated both myself and the other speaker on the day.

Matthew Wakeman

Matthew Wakeman

M dot J dot Wakeman at warwick dot ac dot uk