CFP: Degradation, Loss, Recovery & Fragmentation (RBS-Mellon Conference, Philadelphia, October 2017)

deadline for submissions: 
October 25, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Jane Raisch/ University of California - Berkeley
contact email: 

Call for Proposals - Please Circulate Widely


"Degradation, Loss, Recovery & Fragmentation"

Session Organizer: Jane Raisch (University of California, Berkeley)

Friday, 13 October 2017, 3:45–5:15pm

Bibliography Among the Disciplines Conference

12–15 October 2017, Philadelphia, PA


Bibliographical analysis has often privileged the complete, stable, and undamaged textual artifact as a scholarly ideal. And yet, fragments, lacunae, palimpsests, and other material traces of loss offer crucial windows onto how textual artifacts are read, unread, and remade across periods and between cultures. This panel looks to assemble papers that broadly reconsider how an attentiveness to textual absence and material alteration might intersect with, inform, and be informed by bibliographical analysis. 

Paper proposals should speak to the panel’s general theme and might touch upon some of the following questions:

·      What – and how – can we learn from lacunae, damage, and/or destruction? How – methodologically and practically – can we read loss?

·      How might distorted, illegible, or fractured textual objects necessitate new ways of reading and new approaches to bibliographical analysis? How might they challenge traditional tenets of bibliographical practice?

·      What are the possibilities and limitations of reconstructing – physically, digitally, or editorially – degraded or fragmented artifacts?

·      How do erasure and degradation productively complicate textual fixity?

·      How might fragmentation and loss be differently constituted across different cultures and time periods? How can bibliography account for this?

·      How can we productively record textual and material loss, absence, or alteration?

·      What is the role of conservation in preserving or correcting fragmentation or degradation?

·      As scholars and custodians of damaged textual artifacts, how do we balance the (oftentimes conflicting) demands of preservation and access?

During this conference session, three participants will give 20-minute presentations, followed by a half-hour discussion led by a moderator. As interdisciplinary diversity is a goal of the panel, I encourage paper proposals from those in any academic discipline, including library and information sciences, conservation, museum studies and curatorship, as well as antiquarian booksellers, and book collectors.

Please submit a proposal of no more than 500 words by 25 October 2016 at:

Bibliography Among the Disciplines, a four-day international conference, will bring together scholarly professionals poised to address current problems pertaining to the study of textual artifacts that cross scholarly, pedagogical, professional, and curatorial domains. The conference will explore theories and methods common to the object-oriented disciplines, such as anthropology and archaeology, but new to bibliography. The program aims to promote focused cross-disciplinary exchange and future scholarly collaborations. Bibliography Among the Disciplines is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and organized by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School. For more information, please visit: