CFP: Multiple impressions – the coexistence of scribal practices and printing technologies in texts (Graduate Symposium)

Wei Jin Darryl Lim's picture
Call for Papers
February 16, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies, Communication, Cultural History / Studies

A two-day interdisciplinary symposium for graduate students and early-career researchers. This two-day collaborative symposium, held in two venues, will comprise of discursive and practical aspects about the histories of textual (re)production

A collaboration between the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading


Deadline for proposals: 12-noon GMT, 16 February, 2018


Histories of the production and reproduction of texts in Asian and African geographies by copyists, scriptoria, or printers, can hardly be described as clean and seamless transitions from one method to the next. The clear compartmentalisation of historical periods of textual production and reproduction, while a useful device for analysis, may not always be an authentic representation of how text-producing and reproducing practices migrate between manuscript, typography, engraving, and lithography. As new technologies and techniques are invented or introduced, entrenched practices and techniques often persist; coexisting, influencing, and ultimately meshing with these newer methods of (re)production.

A classical, courtly, religious, or quotidian text printed on a typographic or lithographic press may latterly be finished with hand rubrication and colouring. It may additionally contain interlinear handwritten glosses or illumination added prior to, or after being bound. The ‘in-betweenness’ of textual and paratextual content in many extant historical and contemporary artefacts attests to the complexities and layers behind this ‘coexistence’. Such evidence also suggests the presence of parallel activities – scribal traditions and practices used simultaneously with, and not displaced by the introduction and proliferation of printing technologies.

This symposium broadly seeks contributions that discuss how historically, methods of producing and reproducing texts, by stylus, pen, or press, are often entangled in both contesting and complimentary streams, in a variety of localities. Urban metropoles and port cities, often sites of circulation and transfer of texts, practices, materials, and presses – often becoming loci of activity that stimulate the intertwining of technologies and techniques. Conversely, diverse and complex artefacts and innovative practices also emerge in rural peripheries that have limited access to textual (re)producing means and expertise.


Papers of twenty-minutes in duration are invited for this collaborative symposium from postgraduate students and early-career researchers working broadly in literary history and criticism, manuscript culture and studies, printing history and print culture, type and typographic history, transnational or global networks and histories of the book. Submissions should relate to Asian, African, and Middle Eastern geographies, and symposium themes broadly include, but are not limited to:

  • Interactions between scribal practices and technologies of printing: coexistence, coeval development, displacement, interactions, tensions
  • Blurring of cultural, literary, religious traditions and practices of writing with printing technologies and techniques
  • Blurring of writing and printing practices, within a single, or set of artefacts, texts, or ephemera
  • Practices of textual production and reproduction for classical, courtly, quotidian, and religious texts
  • Interface between writing, printing, and orality: printed or manuscript texts used as aids for oral performances, recitations, and traditions
  • Circulation of texts, scribal practices and traditions, and printing technologies and techniques
  • Circulation of artefacts, texts, and ephemera made from different methods of production and reproduction through lending libraries and subscription libraries



Dates: 13 and 14 June 2018
Venues: SOAS, University of London, and Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading

13 June 2018, in London: 
A day of paper presentations and roundtable discussions held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

14 June 2018, in Reading:
A day of textual reproduction demonstrations; typographic printing from metal and wood type, lithographic printing, and displays and presentations about the artefacts from the Non-Latin Type Collection at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading


Please send a suggested title, paper synopsis (300-word abstracts) and biographical details via a PDF or Word attachment to and by 12-noon GMT, 16 February, 2018.


Contact Info: 

Dr Mulaika Hijjas
Lecturer in South East Asian Studies
Department of South East Asia, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Wei Jin Darryl Lim
PhD candidate
Department of Typography & Graphic Commuication, University of Reading