CFP – Workshop : “The Materiality of Writing”

University of Liverpool: Eighteenth-Century Worlds Research Centre

The Materiality of Writing, Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Workshop

Liverpool Athenaeum, 5–6 June 2014

This workshop will be hosted in the Library of the Liverpool Athenaeum, which was founded in 1797 to provide ‘the conveniences and accommodation for the acquisition of knowledge…in a town of such commercial and national importance as Liverpool’. It will be introduced by a public lecture delivered by Professor Dena Goodman (Michigan) entitled ‘Thinking of You: Objects, Memory and Epistolary Inspiration’.  The second keynote speaker for the workshop will be Dr Annie Mattsson (Uppsala).

Recent research in a range of fields – ‘literatory life’, ‘the little tools of knowledge’, practices of state-making and bureaucracy, the documentation of personal identity, the uses of the pen in private and domestic contexts such as letter-writing, the shapings of domestic space and material culture, to name a few – have sparked interest in the act (or labour) of writing as an everyday practice that involves very particular interactions between mind, body, place and technology. We aim to bring together new research that allows us to reflect on how a ‘material’ approach to the uses of the pen might help us to understand the processes through which meaning and modernity were constructed in the long 18th century.

Themes might include:

  • technologies of writing – pens, ink, paper, furniture
  • personal and informal manuscript forms in everyday life – Stammbücher, commonplace books, marginalia, letters, diaries, account books
  • penmanship, handwriting, graphology – the aesthetics and politics of legibility and indexicality
  • signatures as ways of establishing identity, expressing individuality and witnessing
  • occupational diseases of writers, clerical workers and scribes
  • public manuscript genres and the persistence of manuscript reproduction in an age of print
  • learning and teaching writing skills
  • moving writing: the aesthetic and emotional significance of the postal service
  • Who may and may not write? – the literate slave and other issues of power

Case studies are invited from all disciplines and covering any period within the long 18th century (ca 1650 to 1850). Contributions from all national contexts and those that explore global contexts for written communication are welcome. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. For further information, or to submit a proposal, please contact Helga Müllneritsch (helgamue@liv.ac.uk<mailto:helgamue@liv.ac.uk>). Proposals should be submitted by 10 May 2014.

 


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