The Gathered Text |

by Jessica C. Murphy

Call for papers: ‘The Gathered Text’

Friday 3 September, 2010
The Seminar Room, New Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK

Keynote speaker: Randall McLeod (University of Toronto)

The gathering is one of the fundamental units of textual construction during the hand-press book period (c. 1475-1830). So basic is it to the design of early printed texts that it has rarely been considered as a topic for independent enquiry. Gatherings can, however, tell us much about the ways in which early modern texts were constructed and presented to their first readers. The size and format of gatherings, disruptions in numeration or signatures, insertions and cancellations, and the re-use of gatherings in later publications yield crucial information about the cultures of writing, publication and reading during the early modern period. Gatherings can illuminate technical practices such as shared printing, the construction of texts out of pre-existing printed material and the dispersal and re-sale of commercially unsuccessful or contraband texts. They can also help us to gain insight into a range of cultural practices, from censorship to book collecting to literary marketing. Gatherings might even serve a rhetorical function, embodying in material form thematic concerns of the texts that they contain. They offered early modern authors a textual unit that could act as a tool to think with.

‘The Gathered Text’ is a one-day symposium (or gathering) dedicated to exploring the many dimensions of the early modern gathering. The organizers aim to bring together scholars from across the modern academic disciplines and to address texts written in a wide variety of genres. We hope to attract not only scholars whose research focuses mainly on textual bibliography and the history of the book, but also those who have discovered interesting or unusual gatherings during the course of their work in other fields.

Proposals are invited for twenty-minute papers on any aspect of the gathering in the hand-press book period. Topics might include (but are by no means restricted to):

• The size and shape of gatherings and gathered texts.
• Disruptions in numeration or signatures.
• Insertions and cancellations.
• Shared printing.
• The dispersal of texts and the re-use of gatherings.
• Pamphleteering.
• Censorship.
• Bookbinding.
• The rhetorical functions of gatherings.
• The interface between manuscript and print.
• Editing gathered texts.
• Representing gatherings in digital form.

Please send abstracts of c. 250 words to Dr Rebecca Bullard ( by 16 April 2010

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