The Book Out of Order: Structure, Inversion, Dissent

deadline for submissions: 
January 11, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
University of Toronto's Book History and Print Culture Student Colloquium

“The book always aims at installing an order, whether it is the order in which it is deciphered, the order in which it is to be understood, or the order intended by the authority who commanded or permitted the work.” (Roger Chartier, The Order of the Book)

If, according to Roger Chartier, “the book always aims at installing an order,” what does it mean for the book to be out of order? Is it broken? Is it committing some kind of transgression? Is it still a book? What is a book supposed to do, and what does it mean when it falls short of its perceived functions – or overshoots them? 

If order exists to regulate disorder and disorder exists by virtue of an order, then what does a book’s status as “out of order” tell us about its social, political, and structural identity? Order and disorder are inextricably bound, and when we examine one of these states, we examine the other by extension. Disorder calls attention to the idea of order and, in turn, to structures of power. These issues are of particular relevance to book historians interested in the multivalent forms of books and texts, including oral cultures, manuscript, print, digital, and born-digital media.

The theme of this year’s Book History and Print Culture Graduate Student Colloquium is “The Book Out of Order: Structure, Inversion, Dissent.” We invite submissions from graduate students, independent scholars, artists, and emerging academics working in any discipline, period, and geographical region. We hope to examine the far-reaching implications of the "order" and "disorder" of the book. 

We welcome very broad interpretations of this theme, as well as discussions of non-book materials such as manuscripts, maps, film, or digital documents that adopt a book history or bibliographic approach. Topics and approaches may include, but are not limited to:

  • The materiality of the book and its processes - production errors, custom-bound books (Sammelbände), deliberate re-orderings of the book, the mobility of the book

  • The order of “the book” as colonial -  chronological and historiographical re-orderings, critiques, and inversions on the Western order of the book 

  • Power, Dissent and the Law - how books relate to institutions of power and foster dissent  (e.g. intellectual property, copyright law, piracy)

  • Digital and born-digital (re)configurations - digital technologies creating a separate order from the physical book, on-demand printing, the online book market

  • The order of book collections - hierarchies of bibliographic organization (e.g. cataloguing, the physical library/collection, the anthology)

We are currently aiming to hold the colloquium sometime between March 5 and March 7. The event is tentatively structured as a one-day symposium with a social event a day prior to the presentations. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and potential time differences among our panelists, the colloquium might become a multi-day event with potential asynchronous elements. We are also looking into ways of recording these panels and making them available to conference attendees after the colloquium.

Keynote speakers to be announced.

Submission Instructions:

For individual paper proposals, please submit a single document containing the following elements:

  • Abstract (150–200 words) of the proposed 15-minute paper

  • Short bio of the presenter (100–150 words) including name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), and email address

  • Time zone (to accommodate all presenters)

For panel proposals, please submit a single document containing the following elements:

  • Brief overview of the proposed panel theme

  • Abstract for each panel presenter (150–200 words)

  • Biographical statement of each presenter (100–150 words)


The deadline for paper and panel proposals is Januay 11, 2021.


To submit an abstract or for further inquiries, please contact the colloquium organizers at:

For updates, please visit our website at: