On the Matter Of Books and Records

On the Matter of Books and Records: Forms, substance, forgeries, and meanings beyond the lines
An International Workshop on the Materiality of Written Culture

London, The V&A Museum – 23 November 2015


Registration will open on 3 July and will close on 15 November.


On the Matter of Books and Records: Forms, substance, forgeries, and meanings beyond the lines is an international and interdisciplinary workshop on the materiality of books and documents from Antiquity to the Modern Era. The workshop is aimed at junior scholars interested in the material culture of the written word, especially geared towards PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

Papers will range chronologically and geographically, providing both methodological overviews and more specific case studies. Over the course of three sessions, we will look to answer different sets of questions, focusing on material supports, and subsequently on the binding and forgery of both books and documents respectively:
– How were writing supports created and employed, and what can they tell us about their users? What is the meaning of papyrus, parchment, and paper beyond their texts?
– How were written texts gathered and organised? What do structures and bindings communicate about the history of books and documents?
– How was the materiality of books and documents used as means of deception? How do physical elements of books and documents help us assess authenticity?
Historians, classicists, art historians, and conservators will give short presentations accompanied by a discussion of examples. Ultimately, the workshop will provide junior researchers from diverse backgrounds with the chance to engage critically with textual sources using the approach of material culture.


The workshop is jointly organised by AR.C.H.I.ves (Birkbeck, University of London), the Ligatus Research Centre (University of the Arts London), and the History of Design Programme at the Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum, with the support of the Institute of Classical Studies.

For further details, feel free to get in touch with the organisers:
Alessandro Silvestri: a.silvestri@bbk.ac.uk
Anna Gialdini: a.gialdini1@arts.ac.uk
Maria Alessandra Chessa: maria.chessa@network.rca.ac.uk 

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