The Page: Visual and Material Literature (March 14-16, 2014)

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Graduate Students Association, Department of English, University of Ottawa

The Page: Visual and Material Literature
2014 Department of English Graduate Student Conference
University of Ottawa
14-16 March 2014

Robert Darnton's 1982 characterization of the growing field of book history as "interdisciplinarity run riot" in many ways continues to describe the state of the field in 2013. The journal Book History, founded in 1998, declared broadly that book history is "the entire history of written communication." David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery locate the twentieth century origins of the field in "disciplines such as Bibliography, Literary Studies, and Economic and Social History." The common ground of these positions remains, of course, the book-object. But in 2013, digital forces are exerting pressures on the material foundations of book culture—and on the field of book history—that scholars must confront. This conference will provide an opportunity to re-evaluate our engagement with the materiality of literature at a historical moment when those foundations are at their most tenuous.

What is the enduring relevance of studying the material dimensions of literature? How does paratextuality shape the work we do as literary scholars? What can scholars of different eras learn from one another about navigating the visual and material dimensions of their respective literatures and critical challenges?

We welcome irreverent and oppositional perspectives. We welcome submissions from students in all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Concrete or visual features of poetry, prose, and/or drama
Roles and contributions of non-authorial agents
The book-as-object, material artefacts, artists' books, and book design
Non-visual and material aspects of literary objects, eg. braille
Digitization, and the implications and practices thereof
Boundaries between textual and other media
Paratextuality, illustration, and reading
Print history and manuscript studies
Historical circulation, distribution, and survival of books
Piracy, contemporary and historical
Ecocritical perspectives on literary materiality
Editorial traditions within the canon
Archival and bibliographic practices, contemporary and historical
Non-literary documents in English departments
The limits of "media"
Technological pressures on creative practice
Possibilities in electronic editing

Proposals should be no more than 300 words in length and must be submitted, along with a brief biographical note, to by December 1, 2013. We will notify applicants of our decisions by January 1, 2014. Questions can be directed to Neal Hackler and Cameron Anstee.