Friday, November 02, 2007

Call for Papers: 'Manuscripts and Miscellaneity, c. 1450-1720'

University of Cambridge, 3-4 July 2008

An international conference organized by Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online.

Speakers to include: Barbara Benedict, Julia Boffey, Victoria Burke, Margaret Connolly, Alexandra Gillespie, Earle Havens, Arthur Marotti, Steven May, Marcy North, Fred Schurink, John Thompson

Commonplace books, collections, miscellanies; collections of lyric verse, extracts from authors, sacred and profane, topographical, heraldic and legal information, estate andhousehold accounts and recipes. How do we describe or classify manuscripts with such miscellaneous contents? What importance did such objects, frequently used for several different purposes over the course of their lives, have in the manuscript culture of the late medieval and early modern periods? And in what ways can recent critical interests in the material history of the book and of the history of reading practices help us to understand them?

In addressing these questions, this conference will bring together literary scholars and cultural historians, codicologists and historians of the book. It will foster discussion of manuscript miscellanies written or compiled between the mid-fifteenth and early-eighteenth centuries: their contents, their material forms, how they were written and read, the ways in which their contents were arranged and disposed (within single books or across sequences of books), who owned them and how they used them, and the places that they might have had in the schoolroom or university, home or library.

It will also question the very concept of miscellaneity, in relation to other kinds of compilation and collection, and to other methods of book-classification - is miscellaneity a helpful critical, methodological or bibliographical term? And how do we view the miscellany differently in this age of digital facsimiles and hypertext?

We have limited space for further papers at the conference, and would like to invite proposals in the following or related areas, though by no means restricted to them:

- Concepts of miscellaneity (as collection, variety, multiplicity)

- The categorizing / classification of miscellaneous manuscripts (within libraries or criticism)

- Manuscript and printed miscellanies and their relation

- Commonplace books

- Poetic miscellanies

- Household miscellanies (and the miscellany in the home)

- Religious miscellanies

- The ownership and circulation of miscellanies

- Female writers and miscellanies

- Education (miscellanies in the school, university, educational theory)

- The materiality of the miscellaneous manuscript (layout or arrangement of books, their material structures and construction)

- Miscellanies as 'literature'

- Contemporary editing or printing of miscellanies

- The manuscript miscellany in the digital age

Please send proposals, or enquiries, to Dr Christopher Burlinson, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge ( by 31 January 2008.

We hope to be able to arrange accommodation in Cambridge for our speakers and attendees, but cannot guarantee the availability of accommodation to those who register for the conference after 31 January 2008. In order to register for the conference, please contact Dr Christopher Burlinson ( as soon as possible.


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