Movable Books

News;

26th April, 10AM-5PM

Cambridge University Library

The London Rare Books School is offering a new full-day course on the movable book, hosted at Cambridge University Library. Using the library’s extensive collections, the course traces the history and varied uses of movable features, from early modern spinning volvelles and flap anatomies to Victorian toy books, elaborate pop-ups and contemporary artists’ books. It considers how these interactive pages with their tabs and flaps, wheels and string, might reframe the concept of reading, highlighting a long history of embodied, tactile interactions with the book. 


Booking and information here.

AHRC CDA: Reading and Writing in Medieval Women’s Religious Communities

News;

Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award at the University of Cambridge, in partnership with the British Library.

This fully-funded studentship is available from October 2024. Further details about the value of an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP award are available on the DTP’s studentships page.

Closing date: 4 January 2024.

This Collaborative Doctoral Award would give you the opportunity to investigate the culture of female religious communities in the Middle Ages, through a study of their surviving manuscripts. Medieval women living together in monasteries and other kinds of convent communities owned or produced an astonishing number and variety of manuscripts. These include literary works in poetry and prose, archive and record books, music manuscripts, financial and administrative accounts, maps, books for religious services, paintings in the form of manuscript illumination, documents such as charters, and sculpture in the form of seal impressions.

We are inviting applicants to propose a project that explores any aspect of women’s conventual life, with the specific aim of bringing together kinds of sources that have rarely been discussed in combination. The themes and structure of the project are entirely open, provided the proposal is interdisciplinary and combines different types of manuscripts—broadly defined, as above—in novel, creative, and productive ways. At least some element of your research should concern institutions in the British Isles, but the project as a whole may be comparative. In your proposal, you would aim to draw principally on the British Library’s collections (although we understand that some research in other collections will almost certainly be inevitable). Some indication of the BL’s holdings can be found on these sites:

Manuscripts and Archives Collections Guides
Digitised Manuscripts
Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts
Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue

The British Library has one of the world’s most extensive and diverse collections of manuscripts from medieval women’s communities. In your research for this project, you would work on these collections alongside the BL’s curatorial staff, and undertake specialised training at both the BL and at Cambridge, where you would be part of a large and collegial community of medievalists in a wide range of fields. The British Library is currently developing a major exhibition, Medieval Women, which is due to open in October 2024. Starting your doctoral research just as the exhibition is opening, you will be able to develop a close familiarity with the display, support the programme of private views and visits to the exhibition, and build on its research findings.

The Cambridge supervisor is Dr Jessica Berenbeim, University Lecturer in Literature and Visual Culture at the Faculty of English. The British Library supervisor is Dr Eleanor Jackson, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts in Western Heritage Collections. 

We welcome applications from candidates of all backgrounds and ethnicities who have an interest in any field of Medieval Studies. Applicants should meet the eligibility criteria for Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC studentships. Should you have any questions, or for an informal discussion about how you might approach the CDA project, you are welcome to contact Dr Jessica Berenbeim at jb455@cam.ac.uk and Dr Eleanor Jackson at ellie.jackson@bl.uk.

You should apply to the PhD in English by 4 January 2024 (midday, UK time), indicate your interest in being considered for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP studentship and submit a completed copy of the OOC DTP Application Form at the same time. Please see the advert on the Cambridge jobs site.

Agrippa symposium, 18-19 May

Events, News;

On the afternoons of 18 and 19 May, in conjunction with Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the Centre for Material Texts, Cambridge, Justine Provino (Jesus College, Cambridge) is organising a symposium on the self-destructive artists’ book Agrippa (a book of the dead) (1992) by the writer William Gibson, the artist Dennis Ashbaugh and the publisher Kevin Begos Jr.

The event will feature: a hybrid book tour of the surviving copies of Agrippa in public institutions and a show-and-tell on the archive of Agrippa’s publisher at the Bodleian; a round table with scholars of Agrippa moderated by Cambridge Digital Humanities Director, Caroline Bassett, and a panel discussion on the place of artists’ books in book studies, between the New York-based book-artist Russell Maret and Gill Partington, Fellow in Book History at the Institute of English Studies. The event is held in conjunction with the Bodleian’s annual D.F. McKenzie Lecture, to be delivered by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum. 

For further information and registration in person and online to the Agrippa Symposium and McKenzie lecture, please follow the links below:

Thursday/Friday, 18/19 May, from 2 pm

Symposium: Agrippa: A Book of the Dead

https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/may23/agrippa-a-book-of-the-dead

Thursday 18 May 2023, 5 pm

The D.F. McKenzie Lecture 2023

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum (Maryland) ‘The New Nature of the Book: Publishing and Printing in the Post-Digital Era’

https://visit.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/event/may23/new-nature-of-the-book

PAPER AND POETRY: invention through craft

Calls for Papers, Events, News;

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

 21 –22 September 2023, The Paper Foundation, Burneside, Cumbria. 

How do the making of literary texts and the making of paper shape one another? Paper is one of the most durable and ubiquitous materials in the history of writing surfaces. We conventionally associate paper with the unit of the codex or the sheet, but we also encounter paper in textual culture as endleaves in the form of printed ‘waste’, or in the envelopes and fragments which shaped the poems of Emily Dickinson, or in the work of contemporary book artists who use paper to challenge the very concept of the book. From the medieval period to the present day, writers, artists, and makers have given imaginative and physical form to paper whilst their creative work has in turn been shaped by paper’s materiality.  Paper and Poetry: Invention Through Craft seeks participants to explore the historical and contemporary intersection between literary and material paper forms at the Paper Foundation in Burneside, Cumbria. 

The Paper Foundation offers a unique opportunity for immersive paper-making from pulped rags to the drying and pressing of sheets using historical techniques. Alongside these practical elements of the symposium, a writing workshop led by poet Vona Groarke themed around surface, material, and flaw will offer participants the chance to respond creatively to the paper-making process; Orietta Da Rold will also lead a workshop on paper in the history of the book. Together these workshops will explore paper’s material and imaginative role in shaping literature from past to present day. Finally, participants will take part in roundtables to discuss the place of paper in their own writing and/or research, with around 15 minutes per speaker.  We hope that these roundtables will reach across the creative-critical divide to explore the place and impact of paper-making in both academic and poetic writing. We welcome scholars working on paper in any field including literature, history, art history, and media studies, along with creative writers who engage with the materiality of their surfaces. 

To apply, please send a 150-200 word abstract of your paper-based academic research or creative project to gemw2@cam.ac.ukod245@cam.ac.uk, and vg373@cam.ac.uk by Friday 31st March 2023. Please also get in touch with any questions. 

Topics of interest might include: 

The role of paper in contemporary poetry

Paper in the literary imagination (in any period) 

Paper in the history of painting, art, design

Craft, intellectual labour, and embodied knowledge 

Paper and flaw/error/perfection

Paper and temporality/ephemerality

Paper and the history of the book

The Paper and Poetry convenors: 

Orietta Da Rold (Professor in Medieval Literature and Manuscript Studies, University of Cambridge)

Tom Frith-Powell (Paper-Maker, The Paper Foundation, Burneside) 

Vona Groarke (Writer-in-Residence, St John’s College, University of Cambridge) 

Georgina Wilson (Research Fellow in Early Modern English, University of Cambridge)

Art and Commerce at Play: The Illustrated Book in Early Modern Japan

News;

7-8pm, Thursday 10 March 2022

Free event open to all. Hosted online via Zoom Webinars – BOOK HERE

Join Dr Ellis Tinios for this talk as he offers a wide-ranging introduction to the illustrated book in early modern Japan. Products of creative interplay between artists and publishers, they are original works of art issued in multiples. Their design, production, marketing and content will be explored.

Dr Ellis Tinios trained in the USA and the UK. As a Marshall Scholar he completed an M.Phil. in Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds (1969-72). Subsequently, he served as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in East Asian History at Leeds (1978-2002). In those years, his research shifted from the historians of ancient China to print culture in early modern Japan, with special emphasis on the illustrated book. Early retirement in 2002 opened opportunities for him to collaborate with colleagues in the UK and in Japan, and to teach and lecture in Europe, Japan, and the USA. 

This event is being hosted as part of Cambridge University Libraries’ exhibition, Samurai: History and Legend. Samurai are a well-known image of Japan, but they are as much legend as history. Our exhibition explores the literary heritage of the samurai and the changing nature of Japanese warrior history and culture from the 12th to the 19th centuries. 

Collaborative Doctoral Award: Oxford/Queens’ College Cambridge

News;

Applications are invited for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with Queens’ College Cambridge Old Library entitled: Exploring Humanist Networks of Knowledge and Reading in Queens’ College Old Library.

The studentship will be based in the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford. The successful applicant will work on a collaborative project led by Dr William Poole <william.poole@new.ox.ac.uk>, Faculty of English (Oxford), co-supervisor, Dr Tim Eggington, Queens’ College Cambridge <tje25@cam.ac.uk>

Available for 2020-21 entry. The deadline for applications is 10 January 2020.

For full details see the OOCDTP pages:
https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/exploring-humanist-networks-knowledge-and-reading-queens-college-old-library

AMARC Autumn Meeting

News;

Public Engagement and Special Collections

Weston Library Lecture Theatre, Oxford 

4th October 2019, 10.45-16.30

Through six presentations by academics, curators and education professionals, the Association of Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections will be exploring various approaches that are being developed in order to share special collections with the general public and the challenges and benefits of such activities.

All are welcome to attend.

Registration (includes tea/coffee and lunch): 

£20 AMARC members / £15 AMARC student members / £25 non-members.

To register, go to:

tinyurl.com/AMARCOxford2019

Collaborative Doctoral Award

News;

Boundaries of the Book in a Digital Age

In 1992 the poet William Gibson joined with the publisher Kevin Begos and artist Dennis Ashbaugh to subvert the idea of the artist’s book, and with it the principles of institutional preservation, bibliophilia, connoisseurship, rarity, value and the durability of text.

They contrived to produce Agrippa: a Book of the Dead, a semi-autobiographical poem enshrined in physical and digital formats, each programmed to self-destruct.  The body text of the deluxe version of the book, slyly arranged after the format of the Gutenberg Bible but reproducing the genetic code of the fruit fly, was interleaved with images designed to fade or slide from the page on use.  The text of the poem itself was contained in a floppy disc housed in the binding and designed to self-encrypt on use in a Mac.

Just like the pesky fruit fly, the book survived and the experiment failed: at a launch event an audience member surreptitiously filmed the scrolling, self-immolating text (still reproducing wildly on the internet) and private and institutional collectors pursued the book as a trophy particularly worthy of preservation.

Agrippa has been the subject of much institutional study and has been a focus of attention for scholars advancing investigations into the relationship between digital and analogue text, such as Matt Kirschenbaum.  But it remains an object of considerable mystery, with uncertainty still persisting around the number of editions produced, (deluxe and regular), survival rate, the extent to which the fading technology was applied and the means by which the book was conceived and marketed.

In perhaps a final admission of defeat, Kevin Begos donated his Agrippa archive to the Bodleian library in 2011.  This includes examples of the two editions, prototypes of the fading technology, materials used for the production of images and a wealth of correspondence and ephemeral material.

The archive is probably the single most important source for the understanding of this provocative anti-book and offers an important opportunity to investigate the text and its contexts, questions of curation and conservation, the position of the private and institutional collector in the preservation of such texts, the interface of digital and analogue texts and the wider genre of books seeking to undermine the codicological and typographical certainties of their own existence.  We eagerly await the arrival of an edition of Fahrenheit 451 whose text can only be read when exposed to flame and therefore a book that can never be read in the Bodleian.

Agrippa would provide a powerful launch pad into related areas – the role of the artist’s book in defending or questioning the nature of the book, questions of digital obsolescence and endurance (the Library of Congress has recently abandoned its attempt to collect all of Twitter, while the Bodleian builds its Web Archive) and the interplay between analogue and digital. In addition to participating fully in its academic programming and public engagement, the student would be encouraged to spend time behind the scenes at the Bodleian, understanding how the institutional contexts of the texts it holds can add to their understanding and perhaps contributing ideas to help develop the collections.

Supervisory team: Dr Jason Scott-Warren (Cambridge) and Dr Chris Fletcher (Bodleian Libraries)

Application process

For details of how to apply, please see: http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/19639/.

Oxford Lyell Lectures 2018

News;
David Pearson, ‘Book ownership in Stuart England’

This lecture series will explore seventeenth century personal book ownership, looking not only at book acquisition patterns but also investigating motives and collecting cultures. A key theme will be the use of material evidence from books themselves to help to enhance our understanding of seventeenth-century values.

The series begins Tuesday, 24 April, in the Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, at 5 pm.

Who owned books in the seventeenth century, what kinds of people, what kinds of books, how many, can patterns of change and development be tracked? The first lecture will provide an overview, based on a systematic gathering of many categories of evidence for the existence and scope of private libraries. It will consider methodologies and approaches to private libraries in contemporary book history, and review the sources we have available for constructing our understanding.

author.net: A cross-divisional conference on distributed authorship

Calls for Papers, News;

UCLA, October 5th-6th 2018

Organizers:

Sean Gurd, Professor of Classics, University of Missouri

Francesca Martelli, Assistant Professor of Classics, UCLA

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: January 15, 2018

Distributed authorship is a familiar concept in many fields of cultural production. Long associated with pre-modern cultures, it still serves as a mainstay for the study of Classical antiquity, which takes ‘Homer’ as its foundational point of orientation, and which, like many other disciplines in the humanities, has extended its insights into the open-endedness of oral and performance traditions into its study of textual dynamics as well. The rise of genetic criticism within textual studies bears witness to this urge to fray perceptions of the hermetic closure of the written, and to expose the multiple strands of collaboration and revision that a text may contain. And the increasingly widespread use of the multitext in literary editions of authors from Homer to Joyce offers a material manifestation of this impulse to display the multiple different levels and modes of distribution at work in the authorial process. In many areas of the humanities that rely on traditional textual media, then, the distributed author is alive and well, and remains a current object of study.

In recent years, however, the dynamic possibilities of distributed authorship have accelerated most rapidly in media associated with the virtual domain, where modes of communication have rendered artistic creation increasingly collaborative, multi-local and open-ended. These developments have prompted important questions on the part of scholars who study these new media about the ontological status of the artistic, musical and literary objects that such modes of distribution (re)create. In musicology, for example, musical modes such as jazz improvisation and digital experimentation are shown to exploit the complex relay of creativity within and between the ever-expanding networks of artists and audiences involved in their production and reception, and construct themselves in ways that invite others to continue the process of their ongoing distribution. The impact of such artistic developments on the identity of ‘the author’ may be measured by developments in copyright law, such as the emergence of the Creative Commons, an organization that enables artists and authors to waive copyright restrictions on co-creators in order to facilitate their collaborative participation. And this mode of distribution has in turn prompted important questions about the orientation of knowledge and power in the collectives and publics that it creates.

This conference seeks to deepen and expand the theorising of authorial distribution in the virtual domain, and to explore the insights that its operations in this sphere might lend into the mechanisms of authorial distribution at work in older (and, indeed, ancient) media. To this end, it will bring together scholars working in the fields of communication and information technology with scholars working across the humanities, in order to explore what kind of dialogue we might generate on the question of distributed authorship across these disciplinary (and other) divisions. Ultimately, our aim is to develop and refine a set of conceptual tools that will bring distributed authorship into a wider remit of familiarity; and to explore whether these tools are, in fact, unique to the new media that have inspired their most recent discursive formulation, or whether they have a range of application that extends beyond the virtual domain.

We invite contributions from those who are engaged directly with the processes and media that are pushing and complicating ideas of distributed authorship in the world today, and also from those who are actively drawing on insights derived from these contemporary developments in their interpretation of the textual and artistic processes of the past, on the following topics (among others):

  • The distinctive features of the new artistic genres and objects generated by modes of authorial distribution, from musical mashups to literary centones.
  • The impact that authorial distribution has on the temporality of its objects, as the multiple agents that form part of the distribution of those objects spread the processes of their decomposition/re-composition over time.
  • The re-orienting of power relations that arises from the distribution of authorship among networks of senders and receivers, as also from the collapsing of ‘sender’ and ‘receiver’ functions into one another.
  • The modes of ‘self’-regulation that authorial collectives develop in order to sustain their identity.
  • Fandom and participatory culture, in both virtual and traditional textual media.
  • The operational dynamics of ‘multitexts’ and ‘text networks’, and their influence by and on virtual networks.

Paper proposals will be selected for their potential to open up questions that transcend the idiom of any single medium and/or discipline. Please send a proposal of approximately 500 words to gurds@missouri.edu by January 15, 2018.

Confirmed participants include:

Mario Biagioli, Distinguished Professor of Law and Science and Technology Studies, and director of the Centre for Science and Innovation Studies, UC Davis (author of Galileo Courtier, Chicago 1993; and editor, with Peter Galison, of Scientific Authorship, Routledge 2003).

Georgina Born, Professor of Music and Anthropology, Oxford University (director of Music, Digitisation, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies, or MusDig: http://musdig.music.ox.ac.uk).

Christopher Kelty, Professor of Anthropology, Information Studies, and at the Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA (author of Two Bits: the Cultural Significance of Free Software, Duke 2008).

Scott McGill, Professor of Classics, Rice University (author of Virgil Recomposed: the Mythological and Secular Centos in Antiquity, Oxford 2005; and Plagiarism in Latin Literature, Cambridge 2012)

Daniel Selden, Professor of Literature, UC Santa Cruz (author of numerous articles, and a forthcoming book, on the phenomenon of ‘text networks’ in the long Hellenistic period)