Thursday, 5 April 2012

Missing Texts, June 2012

This looks like it will be a great conference: I love the theme.

Birkbeck, University of London, Saturday 2 June 2012

The Material Texts Network at Birkbeck convenes and encourages innovative work on the materiality of texts. We invite 300-word proposals, from scholars working in any period and discipline, on the theme of ‘Missing Texts’. Papers might consider

* Texts or works that have been erased, over-painted, defaced, cancelled, or destroyed
* Missing works that exist only through photographs or other archival traces
* Texts or works that are better known through photographs, and are themselves rarely on display
* How do we know a text is missing? How do archives record missing texts? If a missing text must leave a trace to be felt as missing, are texts ever really missing?
* Texts or works overlooked for ideological, or other, reasons, in catalogues, inventories, & canons
* The role of missing texts in literary works
* The fetishisation of the ‘missing’ ur-text in textual studies and editorial procedures
* Pages torn from books, lost quires, blanks, unfilled miniatures, incomplete jottings on fly-leaves
* Letters, in which only one side of the correspondence is preserved
* The use by authors of the topos of the lost text, the text-in-the-making, the text-never-finished ("all this will be properly explained in our forthcoming masterpiece …")
* What happens when we find a long-missing text or work? How do we identify and read it?
* How do scholars address the loss of archives when writing, for example, histories of African and Asian nations where there are more Western texts than local ones? What kind of scholarship develops around these gaps?
* How do missing texts relate to redactions?
* Why do texts go missing in archives? What are the historical moments of great archival loss (for example, the archives destroyed in the 1755 earthquake of Lisbon, or the losses in German libraries during the World War II)
* Are texts more likely to go missing in particular media (manuscript more than print? Print more than digital?)
* Can a text ever go missing in the digital world?

Please send 300-word proposals (for a 20 minute paper) and a brief CV to Dr Adam Smyth ( and Dr Gill Partington

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Adam Smyth is the author of Autobiography in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2010), which examines hitherto neglected forms of life-writing (almanac annotations; parish registers; commonplace books; financial records) in which individuals constructed accounts of their lives. Research for this book was funded by the British Academy; a two-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship; and a Long Term Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC.

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