CFP: The Beauty of Letters – Text, Type and Communication in the Eighteenth Century

14-15 March, 2015, Birmingham, UK

The Baskerville Society is pleased to announce the theme for its second two-day conference: The Beauty of Letters: text, type and communication in the eighteenth century. In his preface to Paradise Lost (1758), John Baskerville described himself as ‘an admirer of the beauty of letters’. This conference takes his phrase as a starting point to explore the production, distribution, consumption and reception, not only of letters, but also words, texts and images during the long eighteenth century (c. 1688-1820). This conference will consider how writing, printing, performance and portrayal contributed to the creation of cultural identity and taste, assisted the spread of knowledge and contributed to political, economic, social and cultural change in Britain and the wider world.

  • Writing: teaching of writing and penmanship; styles of handwritten script; copybooks; shorthand; handwritten documents such as diaries, account books, letters, legal and parliamentary documents; the creation of texts by authors, poets and playwrights of the eighteenth century.*
  • Printing: printers and typefounders; technology and technology transfer; typefaces and typography; manufacture and distribution of texts; libraries, and education; publishing and bookselling; the production of different forms of print media: books, newspapers, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, conduct manuals, scientific and medical literature, histories, travel literature, religious, legal and political texts, ephemera and street literature.
  • Performance: the enactment and communication of text in theatre, music, politics and education through writing and performance of plays, ballad operas, songs and lyrics; the presentation of scripts and musical scores; censorship; theatre programmes; theatre merchandising; speeches; seroms; scientific lectures.
  • Portrayal: the visual representation of text in maps; scientific drawings; architectural drawings; astronomical sketches; political/satirical cartoons; posters, labels; signs and shop-fronts including both architectural and fascia lettering; advertising.

*please note the conference is not exploring literary criticism

The Conference organisers, Professor Caroline Archer and Dr Malcolm Dick are inviting contributions from academics, heritage professionals, research students and independent scholars. Please send a suggested title, synopsis (200 words) and biography (100 words) via a word attachment to both: caroline.archer@bcu.ac.uk and m.m.dick@bham.ac.uk

CLOSING DATE 1 July 2014.

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