Trust in the Text

deadline for submissions: 
July 31, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Joseph Sterrett, Aarhus University, Denmark
contact email: 

The introduction of movable type print in late fifteenth-century Europe began with the noble aspiration of making the Word of God available for all, most famously exemplified by the Gutenberg Bible.  How could early printers have foreseen that their work would prepare the ground for the violence and social turmoil that would follow in the Reformation. Texts, broadly defined, were experiencing a powerful transformation. The trust that people placed in texts came under severe strain even as they were more readily available than ever before.  Texts of all kinds—the sermon of the local clergyman, a pamphlet expressing a political view, poetry, plays, even the Word of God itself—required new methods and systems for declaring their trustworthiness. In much the same way, the internet began with similarly high-minded intentions—‘the information superhighway’ connecting everyone in the world. Just as print had done five hundred years before, the world soon reels with unintended consequences of these new communicative technologies, again, chiefly around the question of trust. ‘Fake news’, the facilitation and proliferation of opinion including the views of those who hate or advocate violent resistance are some of the familiar concerns that stem from our own crisis of communicative trust. The text, in its many forms, once again is required to establish and declare its trustworthiness to an audience awash in words.


We invite papers that examine technologies and methods of establishing trust in textual communication of various kinds from the introduction of print in the late fifteenth century to the present day. Please send abstracts of up to 150 words by July 31st 2020.


COVID19: Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID19 and national borders, we are planning a flexible event on the 5th and 6th of November 2020. Whether this will be a hybrid event in Aarhus, Denmark and online, a fully online meeting, or simply a circulation of papers is currently difficult to say. We certainly don’t recommend long distance travel for anyone who might be at risk. We DO, however, request your paper and we will accommodate everyone’s safety needs however necessary.