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 materialtexts@gmail.com 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.