CFP: Visual and Material Literature

The Page: Visual and Material Literature

2014 Department of English Graduate Student Conference

University of Ottawa

14-16 March 2014


Robert Darnton’s 1982 characterization of the growing field of book history as “interdisciplinarity run riot” in many ways continues to describe the state of the field in 2013. The journal Book History, founded in 1998, declared broadly that book history is “the entire history of written communication.” David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery locate the twentieth century origins of the field in “disciplines such as Bibliography, Literary Studies, and Economic and Social History.” The common ground of these positions remains, of course, the book-object. But in 2013, digital forces are exerting pressures on the material foundations of book culture—and on the field of book history—that scholars must confront. This conference will provide an opportunity to re-evaluate our engagement with the materiality of literature at a historical moment when those foundations are at their most tenuous.


What is the enduring relevance of studying the material dimensions of literature? How does paratextuality shape the work we do as literary scholars? What can scholars of different eras learn from one another about navigating the visual and material dimensions of their respective literatures and critical challenges?


We welcome irreverent and oppositional perspectives. We welcome submissions from students in all disciplines. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:


Concrete or visual features of poetry, prose, and/or drama

Roles and contributions of non-authorial agents

The book-as-object, material artefacts, artists’ books, and book design

Non-visual and material aspects of literary objects, eg. braille

Digitization, and the implications and practices thereof

Boundaries between textual and other media

Paratextuality, illustration, and reading

Print history and manuscript studies

Historical circulation, distribution, and survival of books

Piracy, contemporary and historical

Ecocritical perspectives on literary materiality

Editorial traditions within the canon

Archival and bibliographic practices, contemporary and historical

Non-literary documents in English departments

The limits of “media”

Technological pressures on creative practice

Possibilities in electronic editing


Proposals should be no more than 300 words in length and must be submitted, along with a brief biographical note, to by December 1, 2013. We will notify applicants of our decisions by January 1, 2014. Questions can be directed to Neal Hackler and Cameron Anstee.



Categories: Conferences, Non ACCUTE CFPs

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