Category Archives: Uncategorized

Perversions of Paper

Call for Papers: Perversions of Paper
Saturday 28th June 2014
Keynes Library, Birkbeck College, University of London

Library copies of soft-focus S/M blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey were recently found to carry traces of cocaine and the herpes virus; a reminder, if one were needed, that our relationship with the page involves more than just the eye. Current scholarly emphasis on the material text has revealed that uses of reading matter extend well beyond reading itself, promising to bring to light other kinds of tactile, intimate and sometimes strange connections between bodies and books. Perversions of Paper is a one-day symposium investigating the outer limits of our interactions with books and with paper. It considers unorthodox engagements with texts, from cherishing or hoarding them to mutilating and desecrating them, from wearing them to chewing them, and from inhaling their scent to erasing their content. ‘Perversion’ may apply to deviations from normal usage but also to our psychological investments in paper. To talk of having a fetish for books is common, but is there more to this than merely well-worn cliché? What part do books and other written artefacts play in our imaginary and psychic lives, and what complex emotional attachments do we develop towards them? Also, how might literary studies or cultural history register these impulses and acts; what kind of methodologies are appropriate?

This symposium invites reflections on perverse uses of –and relationships with –paper and parchment. We welcome proposals from a range of historical periods and disciplinary backgrounds, and from postgraduate students, as well as from more established academics. Contributors are invited to consider bookish and papery aberrations from any number of angles, including but not limited to: the defacing or mutilation of writing; the book as sculpture or art medium; ‘upcycling’ or re-purposing; the book or manuscript as a fetish object; pathologies or obsessions related to paper; psychologies of book collecting; bibliophilia and bibliophobia; book crazes, the tactility or sensuality of paper and manuscripts; books, libraries and archives as sources of contagion, or as the focus of terror or abjection.

Deadline for proposals: March 30th, 2014.

Please email abstracts of no more than 200 words together with a brief bio statement to Gillian Partington (

This event is jointly organised by the Birkbeck Material Texts Network and the Archive Futures Network.

Taking Stock


In this note the inventor Robert Fulton (1765-1815) writes to Joel Barlow (1754-1812), an American poet and diplomat, reporting on the number of copies of Barlow’s The Columbiad found in a publisher’s warehouse. The note dates from February 1812; Barlow was to die unexpectedly in December of that year while on a diplomatic mission in Poland (and not from the news that 534 copies of his book were as yet unsold). This note is one of many documents in the Joel Barlow Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library that traces the printing history of Barlow’s The Columbiad (1807), which is an expanded version of his epic poem The Vision of Columbus (1787).

Scholarly Editing and Archival Research

Wayne State University is hosting a conference on scholarly editing and the archive on September 26th. The conference will explore “new perspectives on current practices in the editing and presentation of literary texts in all media.” The conference is related to efforts to publish an edition of the writings of poet Charlotte E. Wilder (sister of the playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder). For details see the conference program.

Cataloguing Creativity: Call for Papers

Cataloguing Creativity: A Symposium on Cataloguing Literary Archives

Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts
Friday 15 November 2013 at the British Library

The Cataloguing Working Party of the Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts has recently published its Guidelines for Cataloguing Literary Archives and Manuscripts, along with a related Thesaurus and Glossary.

To mark this event, GLAM will be holding a one-day Symposium focusing on issues related to cataloguing literary archives and manuscripts. We hope that this will provide a valuable forum for imparting information and sharing experiences through a mix of papers, case studies and discussion.

GLAM’s definition of ‘literary’ encompasses creative writing in all genres, whether or not intended for publication, including: poetry; the novel; other forms of fiction; other prose writing such as essays and letters by or relating to ‘literary’ figures; writing for drama, in the theatre, or for radio, television and film; life writing; the writing of criticism relating to creative writing; and the process of publishing or otherwise supporting the production and dissemination of literature.

We are approaching the topic of this Symposium very broadly, and are seeking contributions (of approx. 20 minutes) from potential participants which might address any of the following topics:

  • Issues associated with cataloguing different types of literary archive, e.g. papers of individual writers, publishers, literary magazines, literary agencies, theatres.
  • Cataloguing literary collections containing special formats, e.g. born-digital or hybrid archives, audio-visual archives.

  • Researchers’ perspectives on, and requirements from, catalogues of literary papers.
  • Cataloguing methodologies, e.g. MPLP, in relation to literary archives.

  • The involvement of writers and other archive creators in the cataloguing of their own papers.
  • Cataloguing and data protection in relation to literary papers.

  • The use of authority records and other means of linking descriptions of related literary collections held in different institutions.
  • Researcher participation in cataloguing literary archives, and interactive finding aids, e.g. tagging records; crowd-sourcing catalogue information.

  • Collaborative partnerships between students and archival institutions focused on the documentation of literary collections.
  • Using keywords and subject indexing in finding aids for literary archives.

  • Cataloguing strategies in relation to literary collections.

    Please submit brief abstracts (of 100-300 words) to The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 28 June 2013.

  • New Orleans Tour

    Join GLAM(NA) and the Society of American Archivists’ Manuscript Repositories Section for a tour of The Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC) during SAA’s annual meeting. HNOC is a museum and research center dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans history and culture. Curators will provide a tour of the building and will present notable collection highlights, including materials from the Tennessee Williams collections.

    When: Wednesday, August 14, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m.

    Capacity: Maximum 15

    Directions: The tour will meet in the lobby of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside at 9:00 a.m. and will walk to the HNOC as a group. The HNOC is located at 410 Chartres Street. Should you wish to drive, there is limited street parking and a few garages located on Chartres between St. Louis and Toulouse Streets. Please indicate in your RSVP if you plan to meet the group at the HNOC.

    Contact: For more information, or to RSVP for the tour, please contact tour co-ordinator Alison Clemens at alison [dot] clemens [at] gmail [dot] com. Please note that enrollment is limited to 15 participants and will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP by July 31, 2013.