Announcement and Call for Interest for “Making Sense: handwriting and print” Symposium

We write to announce our planned symposium “Making Sense: handwriting and print,” which will be held 17-18 October 2014.

This two-day symposium will explore the ways handwriting, print, and the body work together to make sense, intellectually and physically. Today, we often hear debates about whether the printed page will become an outmoded technology replaced by the digital, supposedly in the same way that print replaced handwriting. Historically, however, handwriting and print have shaped each other, and usually involve working in a variety of media; Aldus Manutius (1449-1515), for example, based the font he used on his 1503 edition of Virgil on his own italic writing, while the double-column format, the red letter highlights, and the enlarged capital letters that start chapters in many modern Bibles continue the conventions used in medieval manuscripts. Even today’s electronic texts that are “born digital” rely on multiple conventions and techniques borrowed from both handwriting and print to make sense to the viewer/reader visually, emotionally, and intellectually.

The task of this symposium is to bring together a variety of practitioners of contemporary book arts and scholars of handwriting, print, and textual production to think about the many ways that media work together, whether in cooperation or in competition for our attention. Our goal is to complicate the too-simple understanding of new media based an idea of “replacement” by looking historically, interdisciplinarily, and cross-culturally at the many ways in which media interact. “Making Sense” will bring together six experts–including creators and designers at work in multiple media as well as scholars of paleography, graphic novels, and British, American, and Japanese literatures–to present plenary addresses. (See brief descriptions of our invited speakers below.)

We are also planning two roundtable sessions showcasing work being done at Texas A&M that intersects with the symposium topic. Roundtable participants will make brief presentations highlighting key elements in their research, followed by open discussion of shared questions and concerns with audience and guest speakers. We invite faculty, staff, and graduate students who would like to make 8-minute roundtable presentations to let us know of their interest by submitting a working title and brief description, not to exceed 250 words. Please send these by 31 May to any one of us; contact us with queries at any time.

Margaret J.M. Ezell, Department of English
Mary Ann O’Farrell, Department of English
Todd Samuelson, Cushing Library

“Making Sense: handwriting and print”
A symposium at Texas A&M University
17-18 October 2014

Dr. John Bidwell — Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings, Morgan Library & Museum, New York, N.Y. He has published extensively on American papermaking and nineteenth-century book arts and is presently curating an exhibition of Henri Matisse’s illustrations of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Dr. Vera Camden — Professor of English at Kent State and Clinical Assistant Professor Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. In addition to publications on seventeenth-century English spiritual narratives, she works on contemporary “auto-graphic” narratives by writers/artists including Alison Bechdel.

Dr. Ellen Gruber Garvey — Professor of English, New Jersey City University Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance (2013) which looks at making meaning through scrapbooking by women and African Americans during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Dr. J. Keith Vincent — Toyota Visiting Professor, University of Michigan and Associate Professor of Japanese, Boston University. Author of Two-Timing Modernity: Homosocial Narrative in Modern Japanese Fiction (2012), he translated the Lacanian critic Saito Tamaki’s study of Japanese anime and “otaku” culture, Beautiful Fighting Girl (2011), and is working on a study of the early twentieth century genre of literary sketching called “shaseibun.”

Julian Waters — calligrapher and type designer, he has designed alphabets for Adobe, custom lettering for Barry Moser’s Pennyroyal Caxton Bible, logos for the US Postal Service, and was the typographic advisor to Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Dr. Heather Wolfe — Curator of Manuscripts, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C. She has edited multiple volumes focusing on early modern English handwritten texts, including The Pen’s Excellencie (2002) and “hybrid books,” personalize mixtures of print texts and handwritten ones, The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 (2007).