Framing Texts programme

Join us for our first postgraduate workshop, Framing Texts, on 30 May 2018. Register at

Postgrad conference poster

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Editing and Reading Romantic Letters

Editing and Reading Romantic Letters

Monday 14th May 2018

University of Bristol
Queen’s Building, room 1.7

Confirmed Speakers: Tim Fulford, Ian Packer and Lynda Pratt, Oliver Clarkson, and Samantha Matthews

This colloquium will bring together experts from major projects including the Romantic Circles edition of The Collected Letters of Robert Southey and the Humphry Davy Letters Project to discuss the theory and practice of editing Romantic writers’ correspondence. It will also be an opportunity to explore some new critical directions opened up by these resources and to think about the letter as a literary genre.

Lunch will be provided.
Attendance is free but booking is required.
Please email before Tuesday 8th May to register.

Sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust.

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Exploring Early Modern Books: A Workshop

Exploring Early Modern Books: A Workshop

25-26 June 2018

Special Collections, Arts and Social Sciences Library, University of Bristol

On 25-26 June 2018, the Centre for Material Texts at the University of Bristol is organizing a two-day intensive workshop for students from any discipline who want to know more about early modern print culture. By working closely with items from Special Collections at the University of Bristol’s Arts and Social Sciences Library, participants in the workshop will develop skills in handling and studying printed books of the early modern period (c. 1500-1800). The workshop is for anyone who wants to discover more about early modern printed books: about how they are made and how that making might impact upon their contents; about how they might be interpreted as objects; about how to find your way around rare book libraries and special collections departments; and about the importance of engaging with the material in our increasingly digital age.

Bale again

The workshop will be taught by specialists in early modern book history, including Rhiannon Daniels, John McTague, and Jennifer Batt. The workshop is based in Special Collections in the University of Bristol’s Arts and Social Sciences Library, and will draw on the library’s holdings, which range from poetry to geology, children’s literature to international history (and much much more) and cover languages including English, French, German, Italian, and Latin.

The course will be of particular value to anyone who is thinking about pursuing research (at MA/PhD) in topics in the early modern period (c. 1500-1800), but we welcome anyone with an interest in the area.

Attendance at the workshop is free, but places are limited, so you’ll need to apply to attend on the registration form here by 24 May 2018. Successful applicants will be notified by 1 June 2018. Some bursaries are available to support travel and accommodation costs; please indicate if you’d like to be considered for a bursary on the registration form.

See here for FAQ and further information

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Image and Text: Theory and Practice

Image and Text: Theory and Practice

Gui Mohallem (artist based in São Paulo, Brazil)

Thursday 26 April 2018, 3.00 PM Verdon-Smith Room



Gui Mohallem is a Brazilian artist who explores questions of identity, migration and belonging across a number of media, from photography to installation. His artist’s book Tcharafna, part of ongoing multi-media project, is an account of his father’s migration from Lebanon to Brazil through a mediation on his family’s photographic archives. In his hands, the artist’s book becomes a tool for interrogating the role of images in the construction of collective diasporic memory and transnational identity.

All welcome.

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Conference Call for Papers: 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, University of Bristol, aims 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?

As readers, writers, creative practitioners, educators, researchers, curators, consumers and producers, how do books feature in our lives? How do they share our living and working spaces? How might books contribute to health and wellbeing? Do books keep us apart from each other, or can they enable us to connect with communities? What are the consequences of not living with books? How far do the answers to these questions depend on location, or income, class, gender and other variables? How might the answers to these questions have changed over time? What is the value of asking these questions in an increasingly digital age?

We welcome proposals from postgraduates, early career researchers, and established scholars  from all disciplines, embracing both qualitative and quantitative research paradigms.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Living alongside books

How do books fit within our domestic spaces? What places do they occupy in our working lives? Where do we put books (and where shouldn’t we)? Which books live on shelves, in a pile, on the floor, by the bed? How has book storage, and book adjacency, changed over time? What is the relationship between changing book technologies, the places we put them, and how we use them? How do architecture and interior design structure our encounters with books?

  1. Books in our hands

What kinds of sensory experience do books enable? What meanings do the sights and sounds and smells and tastes of books carry? How do these experiences relate to memory? How do technological developments (manuscript to print, print to digital, digital to ambient) change our relationship with books? What impact do we have on books, through preservation, defacement, neglect, or destruction?

  1. Books, health, and wellbeing:

How do books contribute to our physical health and mental health? What role might books play in wellness, sickness, recovery, recuperation? What is the history and role of self help books? What are the therapeutic effects of writing books, reading books, or making books? What are the consequences of immersion, identification, and empathy?

  1. Books and communities:

How might books bring us together? What is the difference between reading aloud and reading silently? How does collaborative reading differ from solitary reading? How and why do book groups come together? How do book fandoms shape the collective and individual experience of books? How might networked novels and living-books allow us to think differently about literary communities?

  1. Getting hold of books

What are the obstacles to living with books? What are the consequences of not living with books? How do libraries (public, private, academic) shape our encounters with books? How are our encounters with books shaped and directed by the publishing and bookselling trades?

  1. Living badly with books

What are the dangers of books? What are the risks in encountering books? What are the consequences of losing oneself in a book?

We welcome abstracts for:

  • individual 20-minute presentations
  • posters
  • panels of 3 speakers
  • workshops (up to 60 min work-in-progress discussions with at least 3 presenting participants)
  • roundtables

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words (individual papers and posters) or 500 words (panels, workshops and roundtables), together with a short biography (max 150 words) to: by 1 June 2018.

Conference committee

  • Rhiannon Daniels (Italian, University of Bristol)
  • Jennifer Batt (English, University of Bristol)
  • John McTague (English, University of Bristol)
  • Richard Cole (Classics, University of Bristol)
  • Ondrej Vimr (Russian, University of Bristol)
  • Anezka Kuzmicova (Literature and History of Ideas, Stockholm University)


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Framing Texts: PGR Workshop

Framing Texts: PGR Workshop

30 May 2018 9.30am-4.30pm
Verdon Smith Room (Royal Fort House), University of Bristol

Framing Texts is a postgraduate workshop organised by the Centre for Material Texts at the University of Bristol. This one-day event aims to create a friendly space in which postgraduates and early career researchers can share current research thoughts and engender a conversation with established scholars on the theme of material texts.

Our informal study-day comprises two sessions. The morning round-table is dedicated to translation and paratexts, and it is followed by a lecture given by Dr. Carol O’Sullivan (University of Bristol) at 11.30am. Carol is a Senior Lecturer in Translation studies working on literary translation as well as audiovisual translation, film history, and film translation history. We find her work on the representation of translation in paratexts inspirational, and we are really glad that she will tell us more about her work, and answer some of our research questions. The afternoon round-table focuses on film and television paratexts, and it is followed by a lecture given by Dr. Phil Wickham (University of Exeter) at 3.30pm. Phil is the curator of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in Exeter. We are very pleased that he will come to Bristol and give a talk about the importance of ephemera in the study of film and television texts.

During the morning and afternoon round-table there will be plenty of space for discussion. We welcome all postgraduates to give a mini 10-15 minute presentation about their research projects. You can notify us about your intention to present by sending an email to Our workshop is open to everybody. If you want to join us, please register using the following link by Tuesday 22nd May:

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‘What Are Libraries For?’ Roundup

On Tuesday 20 February, the Centre for Material Texts hosted our first major debate, ‘What Are Libraries For?’. Speakers Dr Suzanne Paul (Keeper of Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library), Philip Kent (Director of Libraries, University of Bristol) and Mimi Thebo (author and Reader in Creative Writing at University of Bristol) discussed what libraries mean to them, before opening the debate to the public audience.

Suzanne Paul began by talking about the importance of making materials accessible, and the effects libraries had on her own life.

Next, Philip Kent set out his vision for libraries.

Mimi Thebo then made a powerful economic case for libraries.

We then opened the debate to the floor.

Our chair for the evening, Professor Keri Facer, asked which physical books deserved a place in the library.

A key point that came out of the discussion is that skilled librarians make a library.

Another important area of discussion was how the university library can work with and support both school libraries and public libraries.

For our postgraduate member Marta, this was the take-home message.

After the event, responses came through Twitter, confirming the arguments made during the debate, and encouraging people to fight against library closures.


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In preparation for our What Are Libraries For? debate on Tuesday 20 February, we’ve been asking students, librarians and even a small child what they think libraries are for. The answers range from studying to ‘freedom’ via productivity, travel, and socialising.

You can still register for the debate for free via Eventbrite.

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Philip Kent, Suzanne Paul and Mimi Thebo to debate ‘What are libraries for?’

Inside Arts Debate: What Are Libraries For?

Tuesday 20 February 2018, 6-7.30pm
Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building, Park Street, Bristol


In preparation for our debate next week, here’s a little more about our three speakers.

Philip Kent

Philip Kent was appointed the new Director of Libraries at the University of Bristol in November 2017. He is currently leading the development of the new University Library. Philip has 30 years of experience in libraries and cultural collections, most recently as University Librarian and Executive Director of Collections at the University of Melbourne, where he focused on supporting teaching, research and engagement missions and the exposure of the library’s rich cultural collections. In an interview for the student newspaper Epigram, he affirmed that ‘the library is the laboratory for Arts and Social Sciences students’, and emphasised the need for the library to include a gallery space to showcase collections and art work.

Dr Suzanne Paul

Dr Suzanne Paul is the Keeper of Manuscripts and University Archives at Cambridge University Library.  She is a medieval historian by training, and has worked at libraries in Cambridge since 2007. Within the broad field of manuscript research, she has a particular interest in medieval sermons and preaching, and in the application of digital technologies to the study and curation of medieval manuscripts. You can read about her work at Cambridge University Library here.

Mimi Thebo

Mimi Thebo is an international writer for both children and adults. Her novels, often about recovery from trauma, are humorous and humane. Her first novel The Saint Who Loved Me was shortlisted for the McKitterick prize, and her novel for children Wipe Out was made into a Bafta-winning film.  Her work has been translated into twelve languages. Born in the USA, Mimi has lived in the UK for many years. She is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Bristol and is designing a new MA in Creative Writing for the University. You can read more about Mimi here.

Register for the debate for free via Eventbrite.

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The Object of our Affection arrives in Bristol University’s Special Collections

We are delighted that the University of Bristol Arts and Social Sciences Library has acquired two copies of The Object of our Affection, created by Angie Butler in response to our Making Books in Bristol events. 

The one of a kind leather-bound copy, as well as one cloth-bound copy, were presented to Michael Richardson in Special Collections yesterday. Anyone interested in viewing the books – or anything else in Special Collections – can make an appointment to do so for free.



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