Grace D. Gipson Submitted photo

Dungeons & Dragons, a cultural icon of the role-playing game industry, is the next featured topic of the University of Maine at Farmington’s New Commons Project. The UMF New Commons events featuring Dungeons & Dragons are free and will run between Feb. 17 to March 5, 2021:

First published in 1974, D&D was the first of its kind, and has remained the best-known, most successful and sometimes controversial fantasy RPG on the market. The game has been translated into many languages and in 2017 had 12-15 million players in North American alone. Originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the game allows each player to design their own characters and embark upon an imaginary adventure where they interact with the setting’s inhabitants and each other. While it has been cited as encouraging socializing and teaching problem-solving skills, it has also received negative publicity for cultural insensitivity and the practice of magic.


Due to Covid-19 precautions, the following Open to the Public events are all remote. RSVP forms or links to events are included in each event.

“What’s Your RPG Fantasy?: Let’s Talk Blackness, Politics, and Gaming”  
Online Video Keynote by Grace Gipson
“Black Lives Matter” is not just a phrase or way of thinking as it relates to police brutality and racist violence towards Black life, but also necessary in the fantasy and gaming realm. Much like any other art form or popular medium, the world of gaming and fantasy must be open to having a talk about its history of racial and cultural insensitivity, regardless of the pushback. Grace D. Gipson, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Vir. As a Black future feminist/pop culture scholar, Dr. Gipson’s area of research interest centers on black popular culture, digital humanities, representations of race and gender within comic books, Afrofuturism, and race and new media.
Prerecorded Video available at Vimeo Link between Wednesday, Feb. 24 and March 3. Open to the Public.

Online live discussion with Grace Gipson
Join Gipson for a live online discussion of blackness, politics, gaming and fantasy.
Wednesday, March 3, 7 p.m. Open to the Public


Online D&D Campaign for Beginners with Ian Mooney
Fridays Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 5. 6-8 p.m., Open to the Public


Due to Covid-19 precautions, the following live events are open to a limited number of UMF Community Only members. Social distancing and mask-wearing are required. Those interested in attending must sign up ahead of time using the online RSVP form. Individuals who have registered for attendance can check-in at the registration table at event location the day of the event.

D&D Miniature Painting Workshop
Whether you are just curious about Dungeons and Dragons or a life-long expert, painting miniatures is an exciting way to get into the world-building phenomenon of fantasy roleplaying. In this painting workshop, Blair Fenning will guide you through the basics of painting minis, as well as advanced tips and tricks. Beginners and experienced players/painters are welcome to join. All materials will be provided free of cost.
Wednesday, Feb. 17, 5-8 p.m., Rm. 101, Roberts Learning Center, UMF Community Only

“The Monster at the End of This Talk”
Faculty Talk by Bryce Cundick with Introduction by Paul Riddell
Friday, Feb. 19, 11:45 a.m., Lincoln Auditorium, Roberts Learning Center. UMF Community Only

In-Person D&D Campaign for Beginners with Miles Stevens
Saturdays, Feb. 20, Feb. 27 and March 6. 6 pm, The Landing, Olsen Student Center, UMF Community Only

In-Person D&D Campaign for Experienced Players with Paul Gies 
Fridays, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 5. 6-8 p.m. The Landing, Olsen Student Center, UMF Community Only

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. The UMF New Commons program provides a rich offering of free events including expert talks, discussions, films and more, many online, for the education and enjoyment of people in Maine and beyond. Nominated by individuals throughout Maine, the selection of New Commons works have the common thread of representing many of the principles and cultural values that inspire and fascinate Maine residents. To learn more about the New Commons Project, and to view many of the events for the first 12 topics, visit the website at

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