CFP: Textual Scholarship and the Material Book: Comparative Approaches (5/1/06; 11/23/06-11/25/06)

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Textual Scholarship and the Material Book: Comparative Approaches


Call for Papers

ESTS conference 23-25 November 2006

Hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies

(Institute of English Studies, University of London)



Textual scholarship has been characterized by change. Just a few decades
ago there was a belief in bibliographical authority and editorial
control; the transmission of a text was regarded as a continuous process
of corruption; the editor's task was to (re)construct an 'ideal' text; a
desire for origins motivated textual scholarship. By current consensus
the emphasis is now rather on creation, production, process,
collaboration; on the material manifestations of a work; on multiple
rather than single versions. At the same time, the importance of
reception and book history is increasingly being recognized.=20


Yet can one really speak of a paradigm shift in textual scholarship?
What, if any, continuity exists in the methodological, conceptual and
theoretical underpinnings of the discipline? Or should one rather speak
of discontinuity and a diversification or fragmentation of methods and
frameworks? One may think of such opposite approaches and notions as
eclectic editing versus electronic editing; copy-text versioning and
variantenkritik; the authority of the text versus the sociology of the
text; historical bibliography versus the history of the book; philology
versus genetic criticism.=20


To address these questions, and to look for common ground from which to
continue the debate, a comparative approach to the study of texts and
books is necessary. The purpose of this conference, therefore, is
twofold: (1) to consider some of these trends and developments in
textual scholarship across the various national regions and historical
periods (from the classics to the twenty-first century) in order to
investigate the circumstances and conditions that continue to bring
change; (2) to investigate what cross-currents have developed between
the various sub-disciplines dealing with the study of texts and books in
their material form (with attention to the relation between textual
scholarship and book history).


Textual scholarship will be taken in the widest possible sense to
include not only textual editing, but any form of textual scholarship
that looks at the materiality of text, of writing, of reading, and of
the book; at the composition, production, dissemination, and consumption
of literary and other verbal and non-verbal texts; at the interaction
between texts and books, the physical objects (manuscript, codex,
CD-Rom) and the signs they contain. We want to look at, not at what
divides us, but what unites us as philologists, editors, librarians,
collectors, and readers of books and printed materials in any period of


It is expected that the above issues are not merely to be dealt with so
as to construct new theoretical frameworks or revisit old ones, but that
they should inform new and existing practices, models and methodologies
in the field. Some guiding questions might be: Are philological
approaches defunct? Why does intentionality (still) count? Is textual
scholarship stuck in a humanist tradition? How has the responsibility of
the editor changed towards the text s/he is editing, towards the author,
and towards the audiences? How do textual scholars recover the past? How
can we most effectively collect/disseminate textual knowledge? How can
we engage readers/students/critics in textual scholarship? What new
resources are needed? What role do institutions play in textual
scholarship? How does project funding shape textual studies? How do new
developments in bibliography and the history of reading contribute to
textual scholarship?


Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

* the material text/book
* access to texts, access to archives
* national traditions and the history of scholarship
* textual scholarship and the history of the book
* textual scholarship and the history of science
* history of reading and 'material' reception
* history of collectors and collections
* authorship and attribution studies
* genetic criticism/genetic editing
* manuscript cultures-old and new
* the use and abuse of stemmatology
* electronic editing/analytical bibliography of electronic texts
* editing non-verbal (music, photography, performance etc.) and
non-authorial (folklore, myth) works

Deadline for proposals: 1 May

Organizing committee:

Dr. Wim Van Mierlo, Institute of English Studies, University of London

Professor Warwick Gould, Institute of English Studies, University of

Professor Mike Edwards, Institute of Classical Studies, University of

Professor Dirk Van Hulle, University of Antwerp (ESTS Board Member)



            Institute of English Studies

            School of Advanced Study

            University of London

            Senate House

            Malet Street

            London WC1E 7HU

United Kingdom


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Received on Thu Mar 02 2006 - 12:14:59 EST