Call for Articles: The Materiality of Writing

Contributions are invited for a volume to be edited by Eve Rosenhaft and Helga Müllneritsch and published under the imprint of the Eighteenth-Century Worlds Research Centre at the University of Liverpool.

Recent research in a range of fields – ‘literatory life’, ‘the little tools of knowledge’, practices of state-making and bureaucracy, the documentation of personal identity, the uses of the pen in private and domestic contexts such as letter-writing, the shapings of domestic space and material culture, to name a few – have sparked interest in the act (or labour) of writing as an everyday practice that involves very particular interactions between mind, body, place and technology. This volume will bring together new research that allows us to reflect on how a ‘material’ approach to the uses of the pen might help us to understand the processes through which meaning and modernity were constructed in the long 18th century.

Themes might include:
• technologies of writing – pens, ink, paper, furniture
• personal and informal manuscript forms in everyday life – Stammbücher, commonplace books, marginalia, letters, diaries, account books
• penmanship, handwriting, graphology – the aesthetics and politics of legibility and indexicality
• signatures as ways of establishing identity, expressing individuality and witnessing
• occupational diseases of writers, clerical workers and scribes
• public manuscript genres and the persistence of manuscript reproduction in an age of print
• learning and teaching writing skills
• moving writing: the aesthetic and emotional significance of the postal service
• Who may and may not write? - the literate slave and other issues of power

We invite proposals for articles of about 8000 words (in English). Case studies from all disciplines and national contexts, and covering any period within the long 18th century (ca 1650 to 1850) are welcome. For further information, or to submit an abstract, please contact Helga Müllneritsch (helga[email protected]). Proposals should be submitted by 1 January 2015.

About Jennifer Wood

Second year D.Phil. student in English, University College, Oxford. Thesis title: 'William Godwin and his Epistolary Circles: the Private Letter in the Romantic Period'. Supervised by: Prof. Nicholas Halmi and Prof. Pamela Clemit. Funding body: AHRC.
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