Schedule for “Composition: Making Meaning through Design”


UCSB, May 15-16, 2014

All events take place at the University Center’s Santa Barbara Harbor Room (downstairs, facing the lagoon) unless otherwise noted.


Informal drop-in sessions. Note locations below.

10:00-12:00    Scanner Praxis Demo (Presented by Marcel Brousseau, Ashley Champagne, Zach Horton, and Lindsay Thomas) Location: South Hall, Room 2509

11:30-1:00    Special Collections Open Session Location: Davidson Library 3rd Floor, Special Collections

Lunch: On your own (there are several dining options in the University Center, and some at the Arbor across from Davidson Library)

Afternoon sessions take place at the University Center’s Santa Barbara Harbor Room.

1:30-1:45    Welcome remarks (Sophia Rochmes & Charlotte Becker)

1:45-3:00    Featured talk:

    Brian Kim Stefans (UCLA) “Establishing and Dispelling Ground in Print and Screen Design”

3:00-3:15    Coffee break

3:15-4:45    Panel: “Material Performance and Textual Design”

    Moderated by Sarah Bane, History of Art & Architecture

      • Jessie Park (Univ. of Arizona) “Defying Categorization, Defining Practice: Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s Illustrations in the ‘Triumph of Antwerp’ of 1550”
      • Rhae Lynn Barnes (Harvard) “Social Media and Race Making in the Materiality of Blackface Plays”
      • Kurt Ozment (Bilkent Univ.) “The Visual Dimension of Morton Feldman’s Musical Compositions”


All events today take place in the University Center’s Santa Barbara Harbor Room

9:00-9:30    Coffee & pastries

9:30-10:30    Panel:“Medieval Frames, Gendered Paratexts”

Moderated by Aria Dal Molin, French and Italian

      • S.C. Kaplan (UCSB) “What’s in a Frame?: The Function of the Maps in Chantilly, Musée Condé ms. 653, Le Paradis de la reine Sibylle
      • Anneliese Pollock (UCSB) “Text and Image in Jehan Drouyn’s La Nef des folles: An Appeal to Women and Their Five Senses”

10:30-10:45    Coffee break

10:45-12:00    Featured talk:

Sara Pankenier Weld (UCSB) “From the Origins to the Obliteration of Avant-Garde Aesthetics in Early Soviet Picturebook Iconotexts”

12:00-1:00    Catered lunch (University Center’s State Street Room, adjacent to the Harbor Room)

1:00-2:30    Panel: “Embodied Meanings in Text and Image”

Moderated by Shay Hopkins, English

  • Rachel Levinson-Emley (UCSB) “The Medieval ‘Sign Man’: A Text Composed on the Body”
  • Boryana Pouvkova (Univ. Hamburg) “Interaction between texts and images in the Greek manuscript Bibl. Sc. Cyrilli et Methodii 148A”
  • Lindsey Baker (Univ. Arizona) “Carrie Mae Weems: Three Bodies    of Work”

2:30-3:30    Featured Graduate Student Talk:

            Elizabeth Shayne (UCSB) “Sacred Text Boxes: The Layout of the Babylonian Talmud” 

3:30-3:45    Break

3:45-5:15    Panel: “Authorial Design, Material Composition”

        Moderated by Pavneet Aulakh, English

  • Johannes Depnering (Univ. Oxford) “The composition of a medieval mystic’s manuscript: meaning-making in a stressful situation”
  • Annie Abrams (NYU) “’Presently a Sparrow Comes’: A History of Thoreau’s ‘Speech of a Saxon Ealderman’”
  • Jessica Beard (UCSC) “The Dickinson Archive: ‘How are we to think of There?'”

5:15-5:30    Closing remarks (Jim Kearney)


Organized by:

History of Books and Material Texts Research Focus Group

Charlotte Becker, Jim Kearney and Sophia Rochmes

With generous sponsorship from:

Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, UVA

And co-sponsorship from:

Interdisciplinary Humanities Center

Department of the History of Art and Architecture

Department of English

Department of History

Department of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies

College of Creative Studies



May 15-16, 2014: Composition: Making Meaning through Design

We’re excited to announce that we already have an event in the works for Spring 2014–an interdisciplinary symposium on material texts centered around the idea of “Composition.” Please check back frequently as we add details about the schedule and featured speakers.

For now, the CFP is below. Please spread the word, and consider submitting a proposal!

Call for Papers:
Composition: Making Meaning through Design

An interdisciplinary symposium on material texts
15-16 May 2014
University of California, Santa Barbara

“Composition” can refer to the content of a text, piece of music, or work of art, to its visual and material manifestations, as well as to the act of production. As form relates to function, so each sense of composition influences the other. From inscriptions and scrolls, to broadsheets and serials, to graphic novels and e-books, design elements inform reading practices and structure meaning. Composition: making meaning through design is an interdisciplinary symposium that asks how design features (such as format, material, type font/ script, and imagery, to name but a few) can alter, enhance, or otherwise affect the transmission of meaning and shape a text’s use. This symposium aims to bring together scholars from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives in order to promote engaging new dialogues in book history. We warmly invite submissions for papers which may consider a broad scope of topics including, but not limited to:

  • the relationship of materiality and content
  • how a text’s format or design shapes reading practices
  • the interplay of text and image
  • how the author-reader relationship is mediated through design
  • design interventions by readers
  • changes in form or design over time
  • how a text’s format expresses space, time, sound
  • how media borrow and adapt formal or design elements from one another
  • how archival practices affect or interact with design

Proposals of approximately 300 words (for 20-minute paper presentations) should be submitted along with a CV to by January 15, 2014.

We are able to offer limited funds to offset travel costs for participants. If you wish to be considered for such funding, please indicate this when submitting your proposal.

This symposium is organized by the History of Books and Material Texts Research Focus Group at UCSB, convened by Charlotte Becker, English; Sophia Rochmes, History of Art and Architecture; and James Kearney, English.

Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School, with co-sponsorship from UCSB’s History of Books and Material Texts Research Focus Group, and UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center.

November 14: Arthur Marotti on “The Poetry Nobody Knows: Rare or Unique Poems in Early Modern English Manuscript Collections”

Thanks to all who came yesterday to hear Arthur Marotti’s talk:

The Poetry Nobody Knows: Rare or Unique Poems in Early Modern English Manuscript Collections
Arthur F. Marotti
Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus
Wayne State University

Thursday, Nov 14 / 4:00 PM

IHC Research Seminar Room, 6056 HSSB

This paper discusses some of the hundreds of (mostly anonymous) poems that survive in various manuscripts from the early modern period in only one or two copies. It examines the various socioliterary uses to which poetry was put and argues for broadening the literary history of the period to include this largely unknown work.

Professor Marotti is the author of John Donne, Coterie Poet (1986), Manuscript, Print and the English Renaissance Lyric (1995), Religious Ideology and Cultural Fantasy: Catholic and Anti-Catholic Discourses in Early Modern England (2005) and has edited or coedited eight collections of essays—most recently (with Ken Jackson) Shakespeare and Religion: Early Modern and Postmodern Perspectives (2011) and (with Chanita Goodblatt) Religious Diversity and Early Modern English Texts: Catholic, Judaic, Feminist and Secular Dimensions (2013). He edited the journal Criticism for eleven years and has served on the editorial boards of Studies in English Literature 1500-1800, Renaissance Quarterly, Literature Compass, English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700, and JLN: The Journal of the Northern Renaissance. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and The National Endowment for the Humanities (twice). With Steven May, he just completed a new study, Ink, Stink Bait, Revenge and Queen Elizabeth: The Household Book of John Hanson (British Library Additional MS 82370). His current research concentrates on early modern English poetry found in manuscript collections.

May 3: Nancy Perloff on “Unlocking the Semantics of Sound in the Russian Futurist Book”

Please join us for a talk by Nancy Perloff (Getty Research Institute)

“Unlocking the Semantics of Sound in the Russian Futurist Book”

Friday, May 3 | 3pm | HSSB 1174

 Olga Rozanova (Russian, 1886 - 1918) and Alexei Kruchenykh (Russian, 1886-1969), Design and text for  "Pugal' k ustam" ("A gun to the mouth,") in Vzorval' (Explodity); St. Petersburg, 1913, lithograph, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute (85-B4913)

Olga Rozanova (Russian, 1886 – 1918) and Alexei Kruchenykh (Russian, 1886-1969), Design and text for “Pugal’ k ustam” (“A gun to the mouth,”) in Vzorval’ (Explodity); St. Petersburg, 1913, lithograph, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute (85-B4913)

Dr. Nancy Perloff is curator of modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute where she has organized such exhibitions as Monuments of the Future: Designs by El Lissitzky, and Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910–1917. Her scholarship addresses the Russian avant-garde, European modernism, and the relationship between music and the visual arts.

This talk comes out of Dr. Perloff’s forthcoming book project, Books to Look at, Books to Listen to: The Great Russian Avant-Garde Experiment. This project explores the hybridity of word-image-sound interplay in Futurist book art. Perloff also identifies a curious aesthetic of “calculated spontaneity”, which Futurists implemented by their distinctive way of modifying the contents and sometimes the covers of their artist’s books. Variant copies reflect a curious impulse to resist finality and to appear ephemeral and makeshift, when in fact each copy is planned and controlled. The transformation of the book, an essentially visual and verbal medium, into an auditory one exemplifies this calculated approach, carefully thought out rather than accidental.

Sponsored by the IHC’s History of Books and Material Texts RFG, the Center for Modern Literature, Materialism and Aesthetics; the Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture; the Media Arts and Technology Program; the Dept. of Germanic, Slavic and Semitic Studies, College of Creative Studies; and the Dept. of Studio Art.

Getty Trip: Medieval Manuscripts and Artists’ Books!

The RFG is planning a trip to the Getty Research Institute on Friday, February 1, 2013. The day will include two tours: one of the artists’ books collection, and one of the medieval manuscripts exhibit “The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages.”

Marcia Reed, chief curator, will lead the tour and discussion of artists’ books, of which the Getty holds around 5,000. Special attention will be paid to the inventive book formats created by artists who often work in other media. For more information on the Getty’s Artists’ Books, click here.

“The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages” includes a wide variety of exquisite books meant to encourage public and private devotion, such as Bibles, missals, and books of hours. For more information on the exhibit, click here.

We will also have some time to explore other galleries of interest during the day–a preliminary schedule is below.

9:30/10am: Depart UCSB
11:30am: Arrive at Getty, early lunch, visit galleries
1 – 3pm: Artists’ books viewing
3 – 3:30: Coffee break
3:30 – 5: Medieval Manuscripts Exhibit
5:30 – 7: Dinner nearby
7/7:30pm: Depart LA
9pm: Arrive at UCSB

Please email if you are interested in joining us for this unique event!

This trip is generously co-sponsored by the Department of Art, the College of Creative Studies, and the Medieval Studies Program.

Noteworthy Book Events in Fall 2012

We’d like to draw your attention to three book-related happenings that may be of interest to Californians in Fall 2012–thank you to Harry Reese for spreading the word about them to us!

Essay Contest: Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies 

Pages Exhibit
October 12, 2012 (Opening)-January 13, 2013
Williamson Gallery, Pasadena, CA


“Future of the Book” Panel Discussion
Saturday, October 20
Part of the Book Club of California’s Symposium WAY OUT WEST: Fine Printing & the Cultural History of the Book in California
San Francisco Public Library

October 21: Peter Stallybrass, “What is a Letter?”

We are pleased to present a talk by Peter Stallybrass (University of Pennsylvania):

“What is a Letter?”
3:30-5:00pm, October 21 | South Hall 2635

From the late nineteenth century on, there has been a chorus of complaints about the decline of letter-writing as it lost out first to postcards and, finally, to email. This talk will show that for the great majority of letter-writers, from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, the art of letter-writing has been the art of creating as much blank space as possible so as to write as little as possible.

Peter Stallybrass is Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English and of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.  He is currently the  R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library (2011-12).

We hope to see you there!

Kirsten Silva Gruesz, “Hispanizing the California Bohemians: San Francisco Print Culture in the 1860s and the Question of the First Mexican-American Novel”

Friday, May 20 | 1:30 PM | South Hall 2635

Aurelio Luis Gallardo, a liberal exile from Maximilian’s Mexico, serialized his now-forgotten novel Adah, o el amor de un ángel in 1868-69 in San Francisco, where he was an active participant in local politics and print culture. Evidence links Gallardo to the popular US actress/poet Adah Isaacs Menken and to the city’s iconic “Bohemian Circle” of writers Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Ada Clare. Part melancholy romance, part picaresque adventure tale, Adah encourages a reappraisal of the role that the multilingual press played in the development of US regionalism. It also begs the question of what it would mean to consider Adah as the first Mexican-American novel: what would such a retroactive claim for a Latino literary tradition reveal about the exigencies of the present moment?

Kirsten Silva Gruesz is a Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Her work focuses on cultural and political relations between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas, particularly Mesoamerica and the Caribbean/Gulf coast. Among many other publications, she is the author of the 2002 book Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing.

This talk is generously co-sponsored by the History Department and the Chicano/a Studies Department.