Living well with books

Centre for Material Texts, Richmond Building, University of Bristol

Wednesday 5 – Friday 7 September 2018

Since the invention of the codex, the lives (and afterlives) of books have been intertwined with the lives of people. This interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and transnational conference organized by the Centre for Material Texts brings together librarians, health care professionals, artists and academics to explore how books have affected and continue to affect our daily lives and well-being. How we have lived with books in the past, how do we live with them in the present, how we might live with them better in the future, and how might we help others do the same?

View the latest version of the conference programme here (updated 5/9/18): Living Well with Books programme 5-9-18

Keynote speakers:

  • Elif Tinasztepe, Associate Partner and Senior Project Architect, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
  • Professor Miha Kovač, Department of Library and Information Science and Book Studies at the University of Ljubljana
  • Professor Abigail Williams, Faculty of English, University of Oxford
  • Alison Strachan, Chair of Bound by Veterans

Registration is now open via the University of Bristol online shop. Please search for conferences and events within the Faculty of Arts, or click on this link:

A standard 3-day ticket is £60, including lunch and any additional workshops selected. Concessions for postgraduates and one-day tickets are also available.

Additional workshops and creative activities

‘Living well with books’ is offering a series of creative workshops linked to book culture alongside the individual and panel presentations. This is an opportunity to enhance your own well-being by trying something different! Chat to colleagues while you learn a new skill together, or take advantage of our writing workshops to get ahead on your own projects while you are away from email.

These workshops are free for conference delegates to attend, although booking is essential unless otherwise stated (please indicate your preferences using the online shop when you register). Places will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and spaces may be limited. Workshops are for complete beginners and no experience is necessary.

Please note that some of these workshops run concurrently with other conference sessions (check the programme for details).

  • Marbling for Mindfulness with Sarah (Wednesday 5 September, 4-5pm). Marbling is an ancient technique frequently used for creating decorative endpapers and book covers. In this hour-long session you will be introduced to a simple method for creating and capturing your own patterns on a variety of different media, including silk and paper.
  • Colograph printing with Steph from Bristol Print Room  (Thursday 6 September, 9.30-11am or 1-3pm). Explore intaglio and relief printing in this two-hour session creating your own textured plate, applying ink and making your own prints to take home. Please sign up for only one of these printing sessions.
  • Pamphlet binding lesson with Alison from Bound by Veterans (Friday 7 September, 12.15-1pm). Learn to make and bind a simple pamphlet book with an bookbinding expert from a charity which uses the restorative powers of manual bookbinding to assist rehabilitation, improve health and wellbeing and develop employment skills.
  • Writing retreat (Thursday 6 September and Friday 7 September, 8.30-9.30am). *No need to book in advance* Treat yourself by starting the day with an hour of quiet writing time. These sessions will be facilitated by Louise Benson James, who regularly runs writing retreats at the University of Bristol. You will be introduced to some techniques for managing your own writing time, but you will not be asked to share your writing with anyone else (unless you wish to!) and you will be free to use the time for either academic or creative writing. Please come with your own writing implements (laptop/pen and paper) and any other materials that will facilitate your own work. Delegates are free to attend both writing retreats if you wish.
  • Ideas lunch hosted by the Centre for Material Texts and Brigstow Institute (Friday 7 September, 1-2.30pm). Join us over a slap-up lunch to discuss ways in which communities can work together to use books as a technology for wellbeing.
  • Tour of the Theatre Collection, followed by an informal workshop: ‘Reflecting on life: diaries, journals and other forms of life writing’ (Friday 7 September, 3-4.30pm). This session will include a brief introduction to one of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history and live art, followed by a hands-on workshop exploring forms of life-writing with the Collection. Materials include scrapbooks, press cutting books, travel journals and photographic journals

Conference venue

The conference will be held in the Richmond Building, University of Bristol Students’ Union, 105 Queen’s Road BS8 1LN. Conference sessions and workshops will be located within the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (3rd floor) and the Winston Theatre (first floor). All venues are fully accessible, but if you have any questions about access, please contact us. The Richmond Building is located in Clifton, and is a short walk from the main University precinct.

Tea, coffee and lunches will be provided on each day of the conference and included within the registration fee (please note that booking for the Ideas Lunch on Friday is required). For additional refreshments, there is a cafe/bar housed within the Richmond Building. There are shops and amenities close by, along the eastern stretch of Queens Road known as the Clifton Triangle, and in the western direction in Clifton village.

We recommend that delegates arrive by public transport if possible, as there is no designated parking. The number 8 bus service from Bristol Temple Meads train station runs at least every 10 minutes at peak times and stops just outside the Richmond Building (Students’ Union) on Queens Road. The journey takes approx. 20-30 minutes.

Accommodation in Bristol

For advice on somewhere to stay in Bristol, please go to:

Below is a selection of different types of accommodation that are located in Central Bristol and in Clifton:

The Rodney Hotel

Channings Hotel

The Regency Bristol 

Bristol Premier Inn (Haymarket or King Street)

Clifton House Bristol

Bristol Central Travelodge

The Clifton Hotel

Victoria Square Hotel

The Washington Guesthouse

Bristol Youth Hostel

For a list of hostels and cheaper accommodation see: