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CFP: Articles for special book history issue of Revista Hispánica Moderna

Revista Hispánica Moderna is accepting articles for a special issue on the history of the book. We welcome essays (both within and beyond the boundaries of Latin American and Iberian studies) that reflect on the book from its prehistory to its present—and beyond.

The history of the book may be one of the timeliest subjects in the humanities, and for obvious reasons. Today, the written word is produced, stored, distributed, and read in ways that challenge the traditional notion of the book. Responses to these circumstances range from the bleakest to the giddiest of predictions. Whether the book is dying or in the throes of rebirth, these changes are not just a source for theoretical speculation, but entail a radical transformation of the humanities themselves.

In this context, a critical assessment of the book and its history affords a unique opportunity not only to trace the material and institutional changes affecting the circulation of the written word, but also to reassess the value of certain concepts and paradigms that have dominated the humanities during the last century.

The book differs from such categories as text or work in that it is defined by presence—and presence is always historically determined. The first and most direct context of the text it contains, a book is not made of signifiers (abstract values within a system), but of ink or pixels. Each one of these traces on the page or on the screen is fossilized history—concrete marks left by the social and technological conditions that made it possible. Thus, the irreducible materiality of the book poses questions that the notion of text, on its own, cannot begin to ask. At each point in time, the book results from the intersection of the technological possibilities of the age, its epistemological paradigms, and its general and historical circumstances. Furthermore, the book embodies this intersection.

In the first part of his Panizzi Lectures of 1985, Donald McKenzie explains why and how to reassess the concept of text to incorporate not only its verbal dimension, but also the whole interaction of its many interwoven elements, including the binding, material support, writing instruments, etc. It is in this general direction that we believe scholarship should move.

Revista Hispánica Moderna welcomes essays (both within and beyond the boundaries of Latin American and Iberian studies) that reflect on the book from its prehistory to its present—and beyond.

Suggested topics include:

The book and the Humanities: Parallel Histories?
Written in stone: Engravings and Carvings
Unbound: The prehistory of the book
Quills, Types, Bits: A Teleology?
History or Eschatology of The Book?
Monopolization and Atomization: Global Conglomerates and Local Independent Presses
The Right to Copy: Reproduction and Authorship
The Book as a Commodity: Theories of Value
By the Book: The Book and Authority (Religion & Law)
Bookkeepers and Bookmakers: The book and the many meanings of accounting
Fetishes: The Aura of The Book
The Book as a Machine: Technology and Materials
The Book to Come: Does the Digital Book Really Exist?
Dictations and Declamations: The Book and Oral/Aural Literature
What We See When We Read: A History of Reading
Words and Pictures: Non-Verbal Aspects of the Book (Illuminations, Illustrations, Design)
Bibliophilia: An Etiology
Distant and Close Reading: Beyond Statistics and Hermeneutics.
Spines: What Is Hidden Inside Bindings? Recycled and Consolidated Books.
Proportions of the Book

Deadline: 9/01/2016

Length: 8,000 words

Languages: English, Spanish
Relevant research areas: Book arts

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