CFP: The Beginning of the Book

The books cluster is pleased to announce a call for papers for a one-day conference at the University of Bristol on 18 March. After the success of ‘Judging Books by their Covers‘ we will be thinking about what happens when we open the cover and contemplate ‘The Beginning of the Book‘. The deadline for proposals is Monday 15 February. Please read on and tell your friends.

When we open a book it is likely that we will have to leaf through several pages before arriving at the authorial text – what we are conditioned to think of as the ‘text proper’. How often do we stop to read and reflect on the preliminary matter which occupies the space between the cover and the text we have opened the book to read? What kind of material is included in the frontmatter, and what purpose does it serve? How does the inclusion of paratextual support matter reflect developments in the evolution of the codex and how much does it lead developments in book design and our conception of literary history?

This one-day conference aims to bring together scholars working within different historical periods (from the beginnings of the codex to the present) and with different languages and genres in order to explore continuities and variance in the development of the codex, focusing on the preliminary pages which make up a book object. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • the ordering and placement of preliminary paratexts
  • the authorship of prefatory paratexts
  • the contribution made by book design to distinctions between prefatory paratext and the main body of the text
  • the role and function of prefatory paratexts in the sequence of a book’s manufacture
  • the relationship between frontmatter and backmatter
  • the conceptual significance of beginnings, openings, introductions etc
  • the relationship between editorial design and reading practice

Please send proposals for 20-minute papers of no more than 300 words to Rhiannon Daniels ( and Jennifer Batt ( by Monday 15 February. Please share the CFP with anyone you think might be interested, including postgraduates. We are particularly keen to welcome papers from colleagues in the GW4 consortium (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter).

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2 Responses to CFP: The Beginning of the Book

  1. Pingback: » The Beginning of the Book

  2. Pingback: Renaissance Prototypes, the Afterlives of Eve, and Other Great CFPs | The Scrivener | The Shakespeare Standard

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