CFP: Books as Agents of Contact (RBS-Mellon Conference, Philadelphia, October 2017)

Yael Rice's picture
Call for Papers
October 14, 2017
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, European History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies

Call for Proposals

"Books as Agents of Contact"
Session Organizers: Hansun Hsiung (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), András Kiséry (The City College of New York), Yael Rice (Amherst College)
Saturday, 14 October 2017, 8:30–10:00am
Bibliography Among the Disciplines Conference
12–15 October 2017, Philadelphia, PA

The book territorializes and deterritorializes. It binds together materials, technologies, and labor from far and abroad--a letter from Goa, an editor in Rome, Chinese paper, German engravers, Italian leather, English capital--only to be dispersed and reconstituted, from hand to hand, collection to collection, dismembered, reassembled, and reinvented for new audiences in new locations.

This panel seeks to understand how books as physical artifacts are agents of contact, summoning diverse persons and places into unanticipated relationships. Of particular interest are proposals that address the following: What formal or material features of books facilitate or generate promiscuity? How does the physical object of the book create audiences that exceed or trouble established political and territorial maps? Can the logic of book circulation challenge narratives of globalization as the rise of commerce and empire?

We welcome proposals for any time period, from antiquity to the present, and interpret “books” broadly as surfaces of semiotic inscription, from stone, papyri, and parchment, to paper, and even digital media. Papers will be circulated in advance of the conference. Presenters will deliver short summary provocations (8-10 minutes), followed by a moderator-led discussion.

Please submit a proposal of no more than 200 words, along with a brief CV, by 25 October 2016 at:

Bibliography Among the Disciplines, a four-day international conference, will bring together scholarly professionals poised to address current problems pertaining to the study of textual artifacts that cross scholarly, pedagogical, professional, and curatorial domains. The conference will explore theories and methods common to the object-oriented disciplines, such as anthropology and archaeology, but new to bibliography. The program aims to promote focused cross-disciplinary exchange and future scholarly collaborations. Bibliography Among the Disciplines is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and organized by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School. For more information, please visit:


Contact Info: 

Yael Rice (Amherst College)

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