Making the English Book (Kalamazoo 2017)
Making the English Book
52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, May 11-14, 2017
Manuscript studies is energized by an assumption that every book is unique. Even so, the field relies upon general accounts of the paleographic and codicological trends in book production to give shape to meaningful material histories. One strand of inquiry has sought to describe the component parts that inform and comprise our understanding of English books. Thanks to scholarship that places individual manuscripts in conversation with each other, trends in the variety of appearances, constructions, and compositions of English books have become apparent. Yet the history of English books might also be told from the edges, by individual manuscripts that challenge our account of Englishness through their idiosyncrasies: a departure from a characteristically “insular” scribal habit, a peculiarly regional bookmaking convention, or an unusual decorative program. In this vein, this session will explore what can and does make a book English. We welcome paper proposals that seek to define or clarify these trends in English manuscript production as well as proposals that interrogate such trends. Possible topics might include: “typical” English practices in manuscript decoration, compilation, and copying; studies of local, regional, or institutional habits in book production; the making of books in Old and Middle English, Latin, French, or other languages; and any other topics that touch on trends in early English book production within any period and genre.
We invite participants to send a 250-word abstract for a proposed paper to the organizers at MakingTheEnglishBook@gmail.com before September 15, 2016. These papers will inaugurate a scholarly discussion about medieval English books that will continue at the “Making the English Book” conference at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University in October 2017. A library exhibit will accompany the conference, showcasing the Beinecke’s collections and celebrating the arrival of the collection of Professor Toshiyuki Takamiya on deposit.