PAPER AND POETRY: invention through craft

Calls for Papers, Events, News;


 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, and 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)

Paper in Medieval England


Congratulations to Orietta da Rold, whose book Paper in Medieval England: From Pulp to Fictions has recently appeared from Cambridge University Press. The book offers the first detailed reassessment of the arrival and early use of paper in England, and explores the ways that it was used by people across medieval society, from kings to merchants, to bishops, clerks and poets.

For more on the history of paper, see the report of our 2018 conference here.

Paper-Stuff: Materiality, Technology and Invention


On 10-11 September 2018, around 65 scholars from around the world converged on the Faculty of English for a CMT conference entitled Paper-Stuff: Materiality, Technology and Invention. Premised on the suspicion that paper as a substance is so ubiquitous that we can no longer bring it fully into view, the conference ranged widely across time and space, seeking to unmask the often hidden work of paper-stuff in sustaining human cultures.

The conference opened with a plenary panel on the diplomatic and bureaucratic uses of paper in the early modern period, emphasising the global reach of the medium. Megan Williams initiated proceedings by exploring the burgeoning place of paper in Renaissance diplomacy, paying particular attention to the way that ambassadors expanded their reports in order to solidify their reputations for diligence and their claims for payment, and also noting how paper allowed for multiple additions and annotations to be made to a document as it crossed various desks on its journey to the archive. Frank Birkenholz followed this up by exploring the role of paper in the global trade networks of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The Company’s chief anxiety seems to have been the preservation of information, which it achieved partly by creating multiple copies (turning transcription into a full-time job) and partly by seeking solutions to the spoliation of archives, whether at sea or in its warehouses, where infestations of white ants were commonplace.Alison Wiggins rounded off the session by looking at the occurrences of paper in the seventeenth-century accounts of the Cavendish family. Paying attention to the variety of different grades of paper that were deployed for writing, wrapping and coverage, Wiggins concluded with a visit to the ‘evidence room’ that formed the heart of the information management system at Hardwick Hall. This working archive took on an increasingly global reach as the Cavendishes began to invest in the VOC and other colonial ventures.

Our first plenary paper was given by Pádraig Ó Macháin, and focused on the transition from vellum to paper in Gaelic manuscripts. This was also a transition in the mode of production, shifting away from a world in which manuscripts were produced in monastic scriptoria and towards a more commercialised world with a starker division of labour between authors, scribes, booksellers and readers. The transition occurred around 1600, but Ó Macháin posited a 100-year crossover period in which manuscripts combined vellum and paper in unpredictable ways. Comparing the points of transition in surviving civic records and in private manuscripts, he pointed to the significance of professional bureaucrats in promoting the spread of paper; and he emphasised the value of Gaelic sources, with their highly informative colophons, in allowing us to track the process of transition to paper.

After lunch there were two sets of parallel sessions. A session on ‘the coming of paper’ was opened by Jesse Lynch, who investigated the early evidence for paper in Britain through the early paper documents in the Exeter diocesan archives, cross-comparing documents in the National Archives coming from the Angevin territories and elsewhere. He argued for a ‘punctuated equilibrium’ according to which writing practices changed at different rates in different places, due to largely adventitious circumstances. Paul Schweitzer-Martin followed this up by considering changes in the consumption and usage of paper in the transition to print. Addressing questions of standardization and differentiation, and working through the sources and statistical approaches that might tell us about degrees of increase in the need for paper, he admitted that the transition to print may have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Hannah Ryley’s paper focused on late-medieval manuscripts that mix paper with parchment, often in discernible patterns that would have required considerable labour to engineer. What does paper do to parchment and parchment to paper in these unexpected material combinations? Such mixings of different substrates were partly aimed at protecting and strengthening the book, but further work will be needed to fully unravel the motives at work.

A session on ‘paper bodies’ began with a lecture performance by Sophie Seita. Dressing up in paper clothes, Seita channelled the spirits of Margaret Cavendish, Denis Diderot, Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle and the it-narrative in order to challenge what Sara Ahmed has called ‘the fantasy of a paperless philosophy’. Along the way, Seita brought paper forcefully back into view in its role as a legitimating device—not least in the academic world, where the production of ‘papers’ serves an alarmingly similar purpose to the production of papers at a customs office. Karen Sandhu, a book artist, offered a meditation on the irritating or irritated book, drawing on Gertrude Stein’s dictum that ‘one of the definitions of modern art is that it be irritating’. Accordingly, she described her own project to incorporate a number of allergens into the paper of a book that might genuinely get under its reader’s skin. Anna Reynolds considered interactions between books and bodies in the early modern period, when the deterioration of paper over time was read as a mirror to the wasting of skin. In her account, early modern paper would have been characterised above all by its greasiness, whether that grease came from the flax that made the clothes that made the rags that made the paper, or whether it came from the fingers of users. Taken together the three papers offered a compelling insight into just how visceral the experience of paper might be.

After a coffee break, the programme continued with a session on ‘transmediations’. Tom White initiated proceedings by considering the question of surface in manuscripts, taking as an example a single folio of the Glastonbury Miscellany, Trinity College, Cambridge, MS O.9.38. Thinking about the fate of the folio across the whole of the manuscript’s history, from its initial creation to its modern restoration and digitisation, White revealed it as a resolutely polychronic artefact, in which medieval and early modern paper ecologies are entangled with modern archival technologies. At the same time he argued for the heuristic value of attending to the seemingly blank page. Thinking about an entirely different set of paper transformation, Geoffrey Day transported us to the underworld of eighteenth-century London. Drawing on a variety of legal and business records, he reconstructed the period’s sizeable black-market in stolen paper. The growth of retail industries created a massive demand for wrapping paper which was satisfied through complex and highly risky criminal operations, some of them involving the theft of printed sheets intended for works such as Johnson’s Dictionary andLives of the Poets.

The parallel session, on ‘the end of paper’, opened with Joseph Elkanah Rosenberg’s ‘Paper Bombs’, focused on the Second World War. Prefacing his talk with Mallarmé’s dictum that ‘there is no explosion but a book’, Rosenberg began by unpicking the celebrated photograph of Holland House library after a bombing—in his account, a highly staged image that aimed to send out the clear message that barbaric fascists bomb books while democratic Britons read them. But Rosenberg then pointed out that the various genteel readers in the image could equally well be read as scavengers, gathering paper for recycling in to cartridge and shell cases or mortar carriers as part of the war effort. Saving and salvaging, memorialising and forgetting, turn out to be closely intertwined. Chris Wrycraft carried forward the military theme, looking at the way that writers were forced to move away from printed publications and towards radio broadcasts thanks to the paper shortages of World War II. At the heart of his account were the radio scripts of George Orwell, their every word monitored in advance by overseers at the BBC. As in the East India Company, so in the BBC, paper allowed changes to be plentifully tracked in the margins and facilitated multiple copying (everything that went out over the airwaves had to be cross-copied between six and fifteen times). Finally in this session Louisa Shen pulled our gaze towards the future and the ever-receding prospect of paperlessness. Locating paper’s superiority to the screen partly in its tolerance of unprescribed, idiosyncratic inputs and partly in its openness to palimpsestic imprinting, Shen examined some of our current sci-fi fantasies about future improvements on the screen. Might we become screenless before we become paperless?

Day 2 kicked off with parallel sessions pitting ‘Engineering with Paper’ against ‘Paper Technology’. In the former, Agnieszka Helman-Wašny reviewed the earliest history of paper, emphasising the impossibility of disentangling truth from myth. Origin stories tend to give precise dates for paper’s creation and its transmisison to the West, but such stories probably paper over a much complex and multiple reality. Despite a longstanding ban on the archaeological investigation of much early paper (the Chinese state has decreed that the question of its origins is settled), fibre analysis of available samples is complicating the standard picture, suggesting that rag and bark may have cohabited from the very beginning, as did laid (strained through a frame) and woven (strained through fabric). Bruce Huett kept our gaze on the Himalayas but moved to the modern world, looking at the efforts to revive traditional papermaking in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Swamped by the advent of industrial paper by the 1950s, craft skills were revived from the 1970s as part of the effort to preserve local cultural heritage and to alleviate poverty. Such programmes have enjoyed very mixed success, but they have helped to propagate papers that are distinctively durable, good for calligraphy and naturally resistant to insects. Yasmin Faghihi took us ‘From China to Italy’, exploring how the dissemination of paper went alongside the development of Islamic scripts, and how Islamic paper, finely burnished to facilitate the gliding of the reed pen, served as a vital stage in the transition to modern European papers. She concluded with images of Italian papers made for the Islamic market, as found in fourteenth-century Arabic manuscripts.

In ‘Paper Technology’, Orietta Da Rold and Ed Potten discussed the early steps in watermark studies in Britain, remarking on W.Y. Ottley’s precocious finding in the field. Anticipating many other nineteenth century filigranologists, Ottley collected four albums of watermarks with indexes in the 1830s, now Cambridge University Library, Add. MS 2878, which are now very little known by scholars.  Richard Beadle followed up by presenting another CUL gem, Add. MS 4124, an unusual blank book that was bound in Winchester at the end of the fifteenth century. This manuscript has eluded the attention of scholars because of later, sixteenth-century jottings on some of the pages, but it was actually put together in or around the 1480s. Pointing out that very few such books survive from the period, Beadle pondered the question of its function: was it intended for monastic, legal, or administrative use? The jury is still out! Neil Harris concluded this session by presenting a fascinating new project that will follow the footsteps of the Charles-Moïse Briquet, the author of the magisterial index of watermarks entitled Les filigranes (1907), across the archives of Europe. Reconstructing the daily research routines that Briquet adopted during a visit to the medieval archive of the city of Udine, Harris impressed on the audience just how quickly Briquet could work, looking at hundreds of sheets in a day. The project aims to digitise all of the documents that he consulted during his heroic travels—a process which will also enable the patterns of twinning in the watermarks he recorded to be documented for the first time. This is a resource that anyone who has worked with Briquet’s magisterial volumes will look forward to using.

Our second plenary paper was less a talk than a practical workshop, in which paper-artist Linda Toigo offered to teach us ‘how to rip a book and not feel guilty’. Toigo began by talking us through some of her own dazzling bibliographical creations, in which she uses a surgical scalpel and sharp wit to give a new lease of life to previously unloved volumes. Having shown us one of her magnificent pop-up books, Toigo then invited delegates to make their own pop-up pages, using leaves torn unceremoniously from some mouldering hardbacks. The air of quiet concentration that filled the room as brain-work made way for physical cutting-and-pasting was palpable. The session provided a reminder of the physical resilience of paper, which has innumerable ways of surviving in destruction, and of seeming to draw energy from efforts to destroy it.

The conference concluded with two last parallel sessions. In the first, on ‘paper analysis’, Goran Proot initiated his audience into the little-known history of the thickness of paper as it evolved over time. On the basis of his quantitative research, he was able to show that octavos were usually made with a thinner paper stock than larger books such as folios. This discovery constitutes a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion of the significance of book formats, since it suggests that the format of a book was already foreseen when paper was acquired. Next Maria Stieglecker introduced the Wasserzeichen Project ( to catalogue German medieval watermarks, showing how mapping the paper manuscripts of Johannes von Speyr could give important clues as to where and when he did his copying. This was a talk that showed how much could be achieved by the painstaking collection of information about paper stocks; it was fascinating to see how the ‘distant reading’ of watermarks could be used to map the movements of people and texts. Anne Mailloux reported back on fifteeen years of comparably fine-grained work on paper used in thirteenth century Provence. Her research, taking the 1331-4 registers of Leopardo da Foligno as its central focus, enabled her to document the dissemination of different paper types across the Mediterranean. Emanuela di Stefano argued that claims for the primacy of Fabriano as a centre of medieval paper production might be overstated, and suggesting that another town in the Marche, Pioraco, was worthy of equal consideration. Drawing on the mercantile records of the Datini family of Prato, she stressed the technological innovation of ‘bombazine paper’, which was much more flexible and resistant than its Arabic rivals, and explored the extraordinary diffusion of Italian paper across late medieval and early modern Europe.

Parallel with this was a session on ‘paper inventions’, initiated with Elizabeth Deane Romariz’s analysis of the neglected phenomenon of the architect’s notebook. Focusing on two examples, one kept by John Webb in the middle of the seventeenth-century, the other by Nicholas Hawksmoor from the 1680s to the 1710s, Romariz called attention to the intimacy and functionality of these pocket-sized volumes, which allowed their owners to exercise control over the complex process of planning and creating a building. Boris Jardine took us into another sphere of early modern technical know-how, describing his pursuit of a peculiar subset of prints that were created by putting a mathematical/astronomical instrument through a rolling press. In 1997 only two examples of the genre were known, but many new examples have recently come to light. As well as setting up an intriguing kind of relationship between image and archetype, they testify to the fascination of virtuosi with the seemingly impossible precision of the new astrolabes, quadrants and sundials. Gill Partington explored a very different kind of knowledge transaction, discussing the artist John Latham’s unusual dealings with a library copy of Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture(these involved masticating the pages of the book and creating a distillation—later duly labelled and returned to the library—from the remnants. Linking Latham’s with other bibliographical and biblioclastic artworks, Partington suggested that they raise important questions about where the essence of the book lies. Heather Wolfe rounded things off by discussing the activities of John Spilman, a High German who received a patent to make paper at a mill near Dartford in 1589. Tracing Spilman’s activities through the published literature, Wolfe initially encountered much assertion but little solid evidence. When she headed into the archives, however, she discovered that in the period following the Armada victory, many of the great officers of state were to be found scribbling missives on home-grown paper, watermarked with the royal arms, that was undercutting the familiar ‘pot-paper’ imported from Normandy. Here, perhaps, are the beginnings of a paper history for the Brexit age.

The conference was organised by Orietta Da Rold and Jason Scott-Warren, with Carlotta Barranu as administrator and Marica Lopez Diaz providing invaluable assistance behind the scenes. It was funded by the British Academy as part of Dr Da Rold’s project ‘Paper in Late Medieval English Manuscript Culture from 1300 to 1475’, with graduate bursaries generously sponsored by AMARC, and further funding from the Faculty of English and the Centre for Material Texts.




Over the last twelve months we have all been learning to react with horror to the ubiquity of throwaway plastics, those fabulously useful, flexible-yet-sturdy films, bags and containers that have become indispensable for their very dispensability. Plastic packaging panders to our desire for cleanliness (look, no mud!) and opens up all kinds of opportunities for branding, in full colour. Like the rind of a fruit, it offered itself up as a purely functional protective wrapping, to be thrown away without a second thought.

Now, though, the eight billion tonnes of plastic that we have released into the environment are coming back to haunt us. We have begun to understand that there is no biodegradability in the realm of plastics, which break into ever smaller pieces and eventually end up in the food chain. And nature photographers have pioneered a new genre of image, the depiction of animals and birds whose lives have been thwarted by plastic items floating across the world’s oceans. Such crossings of the beautiful with the mundane have done a lot to jolt us out of our torpor.

All of this made it interesting to come across the discussion of ‘transpapers’ in Rachel Bowlby’s Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping (2000). This was the term given to transparent packaging, as it was developed in the early decades of the twentieth century. It was coined by the trade journal Shelf Appeal to get round the problem that Cellophane (a trademarked name) was starting to be used as a generic term for see-through packaging. Transpapers were the solution to many kinds of modern phobia–one version, Rayophane, was advertised as ‘Guaranteed Odourless, Hygienic, Dust-proof, Oil-proof, Grease-proof, Germ-proof’. But as Bowlby points out, they also gave the product a gloss and a sheen, a halo that signified ‘a kind of transubstantiation for the humble loaf of bread or bar of soap’.

The transpaper was a vital technical development facilitating the transition from old-fashioned shops (in which the shopkeeper brought products to the shopper) to new-fangled supermarkets (in which the shopper does the work). Now shoppers could touch the products without touching them, and the ‘cling-film culture of the modern supermarket’ was born. Bowlby quotes Georges Blond, a Frenchman visiting an American supermarket in the 1950s: ‘Cellophane is an obsession; after a moment you wonder if you aren’t yourself shut up in a transparent case’. Seventy years later, we are still wondering.

For details of the forthcoming CMT conference on paper, click here.

Paper-Stuff: Materiality, Technology and Invention


University of Cambridge, Faculty of English

10-11 September 2018

Under the auspices of the Centre for Material Texts and the Writing Britain Conference Series

The introduction of paper to the West was a major technological innovation that transformed the ways in which texts of all kinds were transmitted. Having proved itself over many centuries as the intellectual fabric of Asian and Middle Eastern societies, the medium continued to demonstrate an extraordinary capacity for adaptation and diversification when it arrived in Europe. The stuff of playing cards, votive offerings and amulets, packaging and toilet tissue, wall-coverings and quilt-linings, paper was also crucial to the development of quotidian, democratized literacies and to the unfurling of national bureaucracies and capitalist economies. Light (in a single sheet) yet heavy (in a massive folio), durable yet fragile and throwaway, paper’s ability to combine contrary qualities and its willingness to enter into alliance with other substances and technologies helped it seep into every sphere of daily life. Paper’s smooth surface masked fundamental changes in substance—in particular the move from the rag-paper of the late medieval and early modern periods to the wood-pulp paper of modernity. Its protean surface facilitated deep continuities and extraordinary ruptures in European cultural history.

A spate of recent publications has demonstrated the urgency of getting to grips with paper, at a turning-point in our relations with it. The aim of Paper-stuff is to meet this urgency. It will bring together experts in the field, theorists of material culture and representatives of a variety of disciplines with a stake in the subject, so as to understand paper’s empire in the West. Paper-stuff will also take stock of rapidly evolving technologies available for the analysis of paper.

Plenary speakers:
Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin (University College Cork)
Linda Toigo (paper artist)

For the draft programme, click here.

To register, click here.

For further information please contact one of the organisers at the e-mail below.
Dr Orietta Da Rold (
Dr Jason Scott-Warren (

Sponsor: The British Academy

London’s Leading Newspaper (7, 8)


Hackles were raised yesterday about journalistic independence, as it was reported that London’s Evening Standard newspaper–now given away for free to commuters, and found in multiple discarded copies in every railway carriage leaving the city–was accepting money from private companies in exchange for favourable news stories. The Standard has denied that any such backroom deals have been done.

Discussing the issue on Newsnight, Emily Maitliss asked whether this wasn’t standard practice for newspapers, who were always linking content with their advertising. Her interviewee, Les Hinton, thought that such connections would become more common as circulation figures continue to decline and advertisers gain ever greater power.

It will be interesting to see whether newspapers start to be sites of product placement, with odd little puffs popping up in the obituaries–‘in her declining years she gained great pleasure from weekly visits to Staples’–or the crosswords–as in ‘refreshing fizzy drink (4,4)’.

paper bodies


As we reach the last few days of campaigning for the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, a pro-remain friend reports on Facebook that she has found a torn-up ‘IN’ poster outside her front door. Coming a few days after the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, this is scary stuff.

It may be harder to read the words on a torn-up poster, but its message is all too legible. It also reveals something important about the medium: about paper, with its susceptibility to tearing, to shredding, to violence–its palpability, which is also its palpable ability to act as a metaphor for the body. If you hate this blog post, you can leave an abusive message in response to it; you can troll me or mount a cyber-attack. But you cannot convey your anger through the universal language of the tear. Ripping the page to shreds is a micro-drama that is rapidly fading from our everyday life. The power of paper turns out to be its weakness, its disposability.

troilusletterThere are a few moments in Shakespeare that capture these aspects of paper. Amid the utter bleakness of the ending of Troilus and Cressida, Troilus receives a letter from Cressida. We never find out what it says; Troilus dismisses the contents as ‘words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart’, before tearing it up. ‘Goe wind to wind, there turn and change together’. The fluttering of the paper becomes a visual metaphor for what Troilus perceives to be his beloved’s faithlessness.

At a similar moment of trauma in Cymbeline, Imogen learns that her beloved Posthumus Leonatus wants her killed. She doesn’t yet know why this should be so, and guesses that he has met a new love; ‘Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion, / […] I must be ripped: To pieces with me!’ She asks her servant Pisanio to get on with the job of stabbing her, and bares her heart to make the job easier. But she finds the way to her heart barred: ‘What is here? / The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus, / All turn’d to heresie?’ It turns out that she has been storing the letters inside her clothing, like a lining. In this case, she merely throws the letters away (‘Away, away / Corrupters of my faith, you shall no more / Be stomachers to my heart’). In a play that is full of images of bodily dismemberment, it matters that she doesn’t seem to rip them up, and that Pisanio refuses to rip her up. This is a play about restitution–the words will come together, and will be full of meaning once more, by the end.

Let’s hope the political sphere will see some similar restitutions in the coming days and months…

The Paper Tools of Science


Boris Jardine has curated a small exhibition at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science. It’s called ‘The Paper Tools of Science’, and it brings together a range of paper technologies and printed instruments from the early modern period to the 20th century. The Whipple is located on Free School Lane and is open weekdays only, 12.30 to 4.30 pm.

Miracle paper


“Water is the great enemy of books,” my grandmother used to tell me, for reasons that I can’t now recall. I’ve always suspected that she was right, though, and have always been wary of reading in the bath. Presumably things are riskier still for those who have moved over to ereaders.

Now, though, books and water have come together in what the press is billing ‘the drinkable book‘–a book made of paper that is capable of filtering out bacteria, rendering the water that passes through it safe for drinking. The paper is being touted as a cheap and easy solution for parts of the world that are afflicted by a shortage of clear water. It’s still at the development stage, so it might not be plain-sailing from here–but it sounds like a wonderful prospect.

Perhaps the odd thing about this story is why the filter papers should have come together as a book–since you don’t buy kitchen-roll, or toilet-roll, or coffee-filters in book form. I wonder if it’s because reading has so often been associated with eating and drinking, so that there’s a kind of rightness to the idea of drinking a book. (If this seems like a strange claim, see the report on our 2012 conference on the theme of ‘Eating Words‘. Or settle down with a glass of wine and a good book to test it for yourself).

Call for Papers: Texts in Times of Conflict

Calls for Papers, News;

De Montfort University, Leicester, 8 September 2015

Plenary speakers: Dr Natasha Alden (Aberystwyth University) and Prof. Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University).

Reflecting on the seismic cultural and political shifts of his own time, Francis Bacon pinpointed ‘printing, gunpowder, and the compass’ as the technological drivers which had ‘changed the appearance and state of the whole world’. Bacon’s identification of communicative (print), violent (gunpowder) and technological (compass) forms of cultural expression and exchange as world-shaping continues to resonate, shaping the production and interpretation of texts.

We welcome papers of between 15 and 20 minutes’ length on topics including but not limited to:

  • Textual and visual representations, interpretations of and responses to conflict
  • Adaptations which respond to past and/or present conflicts (including conflicts within academic disciplines)
  • Conflictual relationships between artistic, critical and intellectual movements
  • Processes and agents shaping the design, production, dissemination and consumption of texts
  • Theoretical and bibliographical methodologies
  • Intellectual conflicts surrounding the emergence of new media and technologies
  • Competing or contradictory representations of conflict through identical or different expressive forms
  • State involvement in the production, dissemination and consumption of texts in times of conflict
  • The evolution of media forms and their impact on conflict-based studies

Proposals of up to 250 words should be submitted online at by Friday 5 June. Alternatively, email them to

Bursaries are available. See for details.

This conference is jointly hosted by De Montfort’s Centre for Textual Studies and Centre for Adaptations.