Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Marco Manuscript Workshop 2009 : Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Marco Manuscript Workshop, "Textual Trauma: Violence
Against Texts," February 6-7, 2009, Marco Institute for Medieval and
Renaissance Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

A two-day workshop on manuscript studies will be held at the
University of Tennessee in Knoxville; the workshop is organized by
Professors Roy M. Liuzza (English) and Maura K. Lafferty (Classics).
The workshop is intended to be more a class than a conference;
participants will be invited to share both their successes and
frustrations, and to work together towards developing better
professional skills for textual and paleographical work in Medieval

Last year's workshop focused on the problems of editing texts
characterized by constant change in pre-print culture; this year?s
workshop will explore the theme of violence, deliberate or otherwise,
against texts. Texts are inextricably bound to their material
context, and material damage can have significant implications both
for the reading of a text and for our understanding of its reception
and use. Erasures and other deletions call attention to themselves,
often dramatically, insisting on the presence of their absence,
constantly reminding the reader to remember to forget what has been
altered or removed. Damage and defacement can convey a powerful
message; they may tell us just as much about reading practices,
ownership (of individual books and of the meaning of the text
itself), claims of authority, assertions of power, the circulation of
texts, and the interactions of textual communities as more positive
marks like glosses, annotations, and colophons. Apart from damage
through accident or neglect, which may leave incomplete or illegible
fragments whose original status must be reconstructed, many
manuscripts have erasures or corrections by contemporary or later
scribes; words are deleted, names erased, text excised or cancelled.
Violence can be done _in damnatio memoriae_; equally severe damage
can result from a modern curator's efforts to preserve or recover
faded readings. Some books fall apart from overuse; others are
dismembered as being worthless. Texts can also be violated in ways
that are less damaging to their physical material, but equally
shattering: rewritings can fundamentally alter the text's meaning,
sections can be extracted and placed in new contexts, contradictory
texts can be bound together, commentary that attacks or distorts the
text can be copied alongside it, and so on. Arguably, even modern
printed critical editions imposes this sort of violence on the texts
they hope to preserve.

How should we regard these many forms of violent engagement with
texts? Is an act of textual violence always a violation, the
destruction of a privileged original, a gap that must be repaired? Or
can editors and readers learn to regard the violence itself as an
element of the text's identity as a cultural and social construct?
How can we read such violence to understand the later use,
appropriation, or abuse of the text, and its new role(s) in a
changing world? We invite papers from scholars in all fields
concerned with textual editing, manuscript studies, and epigraphy,
especially those who are working on damaged, distorted, or otherwise
traumatized texts; we hope to include both scholars working on the
recovery of damaged or decayed readings and those who are examining
the cultural implications of these acts of textual trauma.

The workshop is open to scholars and students at any rank who are
engaged in manuscript research. Individual 90-minute sessions will be
devoted to each project; participants will introduce their text and
its context, discuss their approach to working with this material,
and exchange ideas and information with other participants. We
particularly invite works in progress, unusual manuscript problems,
practical difficulties, and new or experimental models for studying
or representing manuscript texts. Presenters will receive a stipend
of $500 for their participation.

The deadline for applications is October 1, 2008. Applicants are
asked to submit a current CV and a two-page letter describing their
project to Roy M. Liuzza, Department of English, U of Tennessee, 301
McClung Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996-0430, or via email to

The workshop is also open to scholars and students who do not wish to
present their work but may be interested in learning more about
manuscript studies. Non-presenters will not receive a stipend, but
are encouraged to participate fully in discussions and other
activities. Those wishing to attend should visit
or contact Roy
Liuzza for more information.

Sponsored by the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance
Studies, and supported by the Humanities Initiative Committee and the
Office of Research at the University of Tennessee.

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