Material Readings in Early Modern Culture, 1550-1700

A Symposium at the University of Plymouth, 11-12 April 2008

This conference explores the significance of the materiality of manuscript and printed texts in the early modern period. By comprehensively focussing on the material aspects of texts (both in terms of their physicality and the materiality of social practices) as a new and valuable way of reading and decoding meaning, it aims to provide a thorough reassessment of the intrinsic natures of and developing relationships between cultures of manuscript and print from the late sixteenth century through to 1600. Avowedly interdisciplinary, a central purpose of the conference is to foster vigorous dialogues between print and manuscript studies, critical bibliography and history of the book, palaeography and diplomatics, and social and cultural history. It is intended that papers will examine a broad range of texts, both canonical and non-traditional, print and manuscript, and will treat the following key areas:

· The material, practices and processes of textual composition and production; manuscripts, drafting and editions
· The technologies and tools of writing
· Interpreting the uses of paper, quills, ink, desks, presses
· The significance of space and the design of texts; the layout of the manuscript and printed page
· The space of textual production; the social context and location of writing
· The social signs, codes and cues inscribed within texts
· The distribution and dissemination of texts
· Environments of reading and reception
· Marginalia and practices of reading
· The material text as object or thing

For further details please email the organisers: James Daybell or Peter Hinds.