CFP: The End of the Book, Friday 18 November 2016, University of Bristol

Image for The End of the Book(1)How do we know when we have reached the end of a book? What do we, as readers, expect to find at the end? With the last word(s) of the ‘text proper’ typically followed by author notes, afterwords, commentaries, indices, blank pages, and adverts for other texts, what do we, in fact, consider to be the ‘end’ of the book? How are our expectations forestalled or fulfilled by this paratextual (and epitextual) material, and how do the framing structures that end a book affect the reading, or rereading, of a text? Further, how does the end affect the beginning of a book, and what dialogue emerges between authors and readers in this liminal zone?

The End of the Book’, a one-day, interdisciplinary conference at the University of Bristol on Friday 18 November 2016, aims to consider how answers to these questions have evolved over time, from the classical era through to the present day. Its purpose is to reflect upon such answers, and how they might be reframed by advances in technology where closure itself becomes increasingly problematic in an ever-expanding virtual world of potentially infinite text, rendering the end of the book obsolete and the reader trapped, almost indefinitely, in the realms of interpretation.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Kate Pullinger, Professor of Creative Writing and Digital Media at Bath Spa University, and Dr Laura Jansen, Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature at the University of Bristol.

We welcome proposals for twenty-minute papers from postgraduates, early career researchers, and established scholars.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The information age and the ‘end’ of book culture;
  • Current status of the book, including the rise and fall of the e-book;
  • The history of the book, such as the end of the scroll, codex, and printed book;
  • Afterwords, epilogues, endnotes, historical notes, postfaces, farewells, and the relationship between openings, beginnings and endings, including the positioning of back matter compared to front matter, e.g. maps;
  • Books within books: divisions within classical works, their influence, and later editorial revisions in separating and ‘ending’ sections; creation of chapters;
  • Indices, bibliographies, advertising and general trends in the back matter of books, including end matter in translations and in different cultures;
  • Publisher’s paratext: blurbs, epitext and interviews;
  • The reception of texts, both ancient and modern, and the significance of retellings, adaptations, and performances in reshaping and opening up endings;
  • The role of fan fiction and media paratexts in moving beyond endings, and the challenge posed by counterfactual narratives to canonical endings, both historical and literary;
  • Extra-textual material and its relation to the world outside textuality.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with a short biography, to arts-books@bristol.ac.uk by Monday 5 September 2016. We are delighted to be able to offer limited postgraduate bursaries to assist with travel to the conference; please note in your email if you wish to be considered for one of these bursaries.

Please share the CFP with anyone you think might be interested. We are particularly keen to welcome papers from colleagues in the GW4 consortium (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter).

The conference is generously funded by the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition (IGRCT) and the Bristol Institute for Research in the Humanities and Arts (BIRTHA).

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