CFP for BH and DH: Book History and Digital Humanities, Sept 22-24, UW-Madison

Anna Palmer's picture
Call for Papers
April 15, 2017
Wisconsin, United States
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities

2017 Conference

BH and DH: Book History and Digital Humanities

Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture

University of Wisconsin-Madison

September 22-24, 2017 | Madison, Wisconsin


Call for Individual Papers and Complete/Partial Panels

Proposals due to by April 15, 2017

Decision Notification by May 15, 2017


Organizers: Jonathan Senchyne, Heather Wacha, Mark Vareschi

Questions to:

Keynote Lecture: Matthew Kirschenbaum, Professor of English at the University of Maryland and author of Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination and Track Changes A Literary History of Word Processing.


Often celebrated and criticized as the next big thing in humanist research and teaching, “the digital humanities” get a lot of press for shaking up the way things are done. But is “dh” a continuation of some of the most “traditional” scholarly work in the humanities: bibliography, textual criticism, and book history? This conference, convened by the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aims to study how digital humanities grows out book history, how “bh” and “dh” continue to be mutually informative and generative, and how also they contradict each other.

This conference is an occasion to think broadly and provocatively about fields and formats – to trace these genealogies and debate their meaning, to think about what difference it makes to position the hand written or printed word on a continuum with digital inscription rather than insisting the latter is a clean break from the former, and to broaden views about whose labor – intellectual and physical – makes all kinds of reading, writing, and scholarship possible.

The organizers welcome proposals for papers, entire panels, partial panels (to be filled in with individual paper submissions), posters, or other forms of presentation from scholars and practitioners in all fields that have claim to these questions: literature, history, religious studies, librarianship, information studies, area and ethnic studies, computer science, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, digital studies, library and information science, art history, preservation, forensics, curation, archival practice, and more.

Topics may include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Book as technology
  • The relationships between and among librarians, technologists, and humanities faculty and students
  • The making of digital bibliographies, catalogs, and archives out of analog ones (and librarian, largely women information laborers)
  • Histories of digitization (and/or of microfilm, other storage and transmission media)
  • What happens to the “traditional humanities” vs. “digital humanities” antagonism when we see the latter as a continuation or inheritor of book history?
  • Critical Race Studies in BH and DH and the critiques of both from African American studies, postcolonial studies, and Native American studies
  • digital remediation of manuscript, print, and books
  • Histories of particular institutions that connect BH and DH such as the American Library Association, the UVA English Dept, the William Blake Archive.
  • Printing history and digital humanities (e.g. understanding circumstances of production key to OCR, etc)
  • Importance of labor to create metadata, reference books, accumulate information – what kind of labor is acceptable, privileged, valuable?
  • Quantitative methods in Book History (esp. Annales school, French/Continental tradition) and continuity with digital humanities methods
  • Bibliographical methods in Book History and continuity with digital humanities methods
  • How has DH dealt with/expanded what “reading” means and how is this connected to book history’s approach to history of reading?
  • BH and DH methods for studying group reading, collaborative reading and writing, institutions of reading, reading “against the grain”, readers as writers, etc.
  • Encoding the physical book – how to make computers understand and display what book historians care about
  • DH and BH and the collecting/accumulating/”cabinet of curiosities” tradition; media archaeology
  • history of information organization/data collection as part of history of science, book history and digital humanities, structures of digital and pre-digital information
  • web archiving and preservation of information about readers and texts in the present
  • And more. We welcome an expansive, capacious, and argumentative field for this conference!


Other relevant details:

Affordable (below market) accommodations are available in a reserved block of rooms at an on-campus hotel on a first-come first-served basis. We offer a reasonable registration fee on a sliding scale, especially to keep fees very low for graduate students and adjuncts. Information about accommodations and registration will circulate with panel/paper acceptances.

While on campus, attendees will be able to experiment in the CHPDC’s “Text Technologies Press,” a full service hands on letterpress shop, and the iSchool’s “RADD: Recovering Analogue and Digital Data” center, a media archaeology lab for personal archiving of endangered media formats. In the past, conference goers have made productive research use of materials in the Special Collections department in Memorial Library and the vast holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society while on campus.

Participants will be invited to submit edited and expanded papers for possible inclusion in a volume within our series at the UW Press

Contact Info: 

Anna Palmer