CFP: New Approaches to Critical Bibliography and the Material Text

deadline for submissions: 
November 8, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Kate Ozment, Special Editor of Criticism
contact email: 

“New Approaches to Critical Bibliography and the Material Text”

CFP for Special Issue of Criticism edited by Lisa Maruca and Kate Ozment



Abstracts Due: Monday, Nov. 8, 2021

Full Manuscripts: May 2, 2022

Intended Publication: Fall 2022


 We are soliciting submissions for a special issue of Criticism titled “New Approaches to Critical Bibliography and the Material Text.” We understand that researching during an ongoing pandemic is difficult, and encourage potential submitters to contact us to see if we can accommodate different deadlines within our publication schedule. We also are happy to receive shorter and nontraditional pieces from those whose work is best represented in other forms and formats. 

We recognize that the work we are soliciting with this CFP engages with and comes from communities and narratives that have been historically marginalized, including by fields such as book history and bibliography, white values in academia, and the process of scholarly publication itself. The editors acknowledge our responsibility to not replicate that harm, as much as possible, by offering a transparent editorial process that supports innovative scholarship with productive and generous editorial guidance rather than positioning peer review as a gatekeeping mechanism. We also recognize our own limitations, disciplinarily and lived experiences, and commit to seeking guidance and expertise from others in the field to shape submissions. We are available to answer any questions about these values, our process, and our work to potential submitters. 

Call for Papers
This special issue of Criticism on “New Approaches to Critical Bibliography and the Material Text” seeks theoretically engaged essays and projects on bibliography, book history, historical media studies, and visual culture that center anti-racism, feminism, queer approaches, postcolonialism, labor and critiques of capitalism, disability studies, ecocriticism, or other intersectional approaches. 

Critical Bibliography has been defined as work that brings “close attention to the book as a material-cultural artifact; hands-on engagement with technologies and processes of textual production; and an awareness of circuits of textual transmission—into much-needed dialogue with the critical and theoretical insights of twenty-first century humanities scholarship.”(1) While seeing this as an important starting point, we hope this issue will foreground the ways that materiality of communication in its multiple forms is embedded in larger power relations and hierarchies. In taking this approach, we are inspired by Derrick Spires’ recent call for a “liberation bibliography.” He describes this as “a conscious and intentional practice of identifying and repairing the harms of systemic racism, anti-blackness, sexism, heteronormativity, and other oppressive forces in and through bibliographical study, broadly conceived ….” He continues, “Liberation bibliography makes visible those knowledge systems and sites of knowledge production, activism, and possibility that institutions have historically rendered invisible or irrelevant … [and] engage[s] in an ongoing reconsideration of citational practices, archives, power, and our relation to them.”(2) As Spires emphasizes, “ongoing reconsideration” is crucial to imagine what role bibliography and studies of materiality and communication can play in working toward liberation, and we are looking for submissions that contribute to this work as they focus on the intersections of materiality texts and theoretical traditions. 

This issue is not interested in reinforcing strict boundaries between the fields of bibliography, book history, print culture studies, communication, media studies, and other related areas. Rather, we believe that borrowing across scholarly epistemologies, blending new approaches with more traditional ones, and removing artificial barriers results in the most fruitful research. We encourage work representing different times periods and fields, including transhistorical approaches. We are open not just to traditional articles of 8,000-10,000 words, but also shorter, nontraditional pieces such as descriptions of pedagogy, artist statements, manifestos, reflections, and conversations, including collaboratively authored work. We particularly welcome submissions from scholars from under-represented backgrounds, early career researchers, and those who are precariously employed.

Possible approaches include but are not limited to:

  • Black bibliography and book cultures
  • Feminist bibliography and gendered textual production and history
  • Indigenous books and textualities, including beyond traditional definitions of the “book” such as oral histories and heritages of the land, seeds, objects, and community practices
  • The postcolonial book, including the “book” as colonial object; discussions of decolonization versus postcolonial analyses and possibilities
  • Queer bibliography; queering the book
  • The relationship between material communication, technology, and disability
  • Texts in migration and translation
  • Critical cataloguing and librarianship
  • Library history as it intersects with power structures, including attempts to “decolonize” a library’s holdings, its metadata, or its organizational practices
  • Collecting and archives, in theory and as physical spaces and professions
  • Archives, libraries, and ethics, including repatriation, reparation, and community archives
  • Politics of open-access materials; the financial and labor costs of digitization
  • New materialism 
  • Relationship of the material objects to/with the environment
  • Critical making, book artistry, craft, and DIY
  • Critical making pedagogy and accessibility
  • Studies that trouble disciplinary definitions of media and communication through theoretical engagements
  • Considering literacies and histories beyond the alphabetic or the “book” and its epistemology
  • Descriptions of or guidelines for digital projects that engage with any of the above 

Interested authors can send queries and submissions to Lisa Maruca ( and Kate Ozment (