ESTS 2006

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Textual Scholarship and the Material Book: Comparative Approaches

Hosted by the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies
(Institute of English Studies, University of London). The third International Conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship
London, Thursday 23rd to Friday 25th of November 2006

The deadline for the conference has passed.

The European Society for Textual Scholarship is an international and interdisciplinary forum for the theory and practice of textual scholarship in Europe. Our aim is to allow dialogue among scholars from different countries, especially through conferences every two years. After three Colloquia on different subjects (Leicester 2001, The Book in the 21st Century; Antwerp 2002, Reading Notes; Copenhagen 2003, The Book as Artefact). Our first conference was held in Alicante (Spain) in November 2004 and our second conference in The Hague in December 2005.

Textual scholarship has been characterized by change. Just a few decades ago there was a belief in bibliographical authority and editorial control; the transmission of a text was regarded as a continuous process of corruption; the editor’s task was to (re)construct an ‘ideal’ text; a desire for origins motivated textual scholarship. By current consensus the emphasis is now rather on creation, production, process, collaboration; on the material manifestations of a work; on multiple rather than single versions. At the same time, the importance of reception and book history is increasingly being recognized.

Yet can one really speak of a paradigm shift in textual scholarship? What, if any, continuity exists in the methodological, conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline? Or should one rather speak of discontinuity and a diversification or fragmentation of methods and frameworks? One may think of such opposite approaches and notions as eclectic editing versus electronic editing; copy-text versioning and variantenkritik; the authority of the text versus the sociology of the text; historical bibliography versus the history of the book; philology versus genetic criticism.

To address these questions, and to look for common ground from which to continue the debate, a comparative approach to the study of texts and books is necessary. The purpose of this conference, therefore, is twofold: (1) to consider some of these trends and developments in textual scholarship across the various national regions and historical periods (from the classics to the twenty-first century) in order to investigate the circumstances and conditions that continue to bring change; (2) to investigate what cross-currents have developed between the various sub-disciplines dealing with the study of texts and books in their material form (with attention to the relation between textual scholarship and book history).

Textual scholarship will be taken in the widest possible sense to include not only textual editing, but any form of textual scholarship that looks at the materiality of text, of writing, of reading, and of the book; at the composition, production, dissemination, and consumption of literary and other verbal and non-verbal texts; at the interaction between texts and books, the physical objects (manuscript, codex, CD-Rom) and the signs they contain. We want to look at, not at what divides us, but what unites us as philologists, editors, librarians, collectors, and readers of books and printed materials in any period of history.

It is expected that the above issues are not merely to be dealt with so as to construct new theoretical frameworks or revisit old ones, but that they should inform new and existing practices, models and methodologies in the field. Some guiding questions might be: Are philological approaches defunct? Why does intentionality (still) count? Is textual scholarship stuck in a humanist tradition? How has the responsibility of the editor changed towards the text s/he is editing, towards the author, and towards the audiences? How do textual scholars recover the past? How can we most effectively collect/disseminate textual knowledge? How can we engage readers/students/critics in textual scholarship? What new resources are needed? What role do institutions play in textual scholarship? How does project funding shape textual studies? How do new developments in bibliography and the history of reading contribute to textual scholarship?

Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

* the material text/book
* access to texts, access to archives
* national traditions and the history of scholarship
* textual scholarship and the history of the book
* textual scholarship and the history of science
* history of reading and ‘material’ reception
* history of collectors and collections
* authorship and attribution studies
* genetic criticism/genetic editing
* manuscript cultures-old and new
* the use and abuse of stemmatology
* electronic editing/analytical bibliography of electronic texts
* editing non-verbal (music, photography, performance etc.) and non-authorial (folklore, myth) works

Proposals of no more than 250 words should be sent to Wim Van Mierlo no later than 1 May. Please note that at the time of the conference all speakers need to be registered members of the Society. If you want to become a member you can go to the members page. The organizing committee consists of: Dr Wim Van Mierlo (Institute of English Studies, University of London) Professor Warwick Gould (Institute of English Studies, University of London) Professor Mike Edwards (Institute of Classical Studies, University of London) Professor Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp, ESTS board member) Contact: Institute of English Studies School of Advanced Study University of London Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU United Kingdom e-mail:

The deadline for the conference has now passed.

The organizers of this conference are the European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS) and the Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies (Institute of English Studies, University of London).