Call for Papers: “At the Threshold: Looking Forward, Looking Back” — Bibliographical and Book Studies in Canada

On 16–18 May 2022, Canada’s bibliographical and book studies community will gather virtually for the Annual Conference of the Bibliographical Society of Canada at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Society’s founding, our conference theme offers an opportunity to reflect critically on the past, present, and future of bibliographical studies.

The study of books is tied inexorably to the past; we examine the deeply-rooted ways bibliography shapes and reflects the world around it. Yet, our discipline also stands at the threshold of a profoundly uncertain future. Amidst change and transformation, we look ahead to new ways of being and understanding in a mutable world. In so doing, we consider what formative legacies we wish to retain and honour—and which we might usefully move beyond towards the end of building a more vibrant and just world.

This paradox evokes the Roman divinity Janus, god of doorways and boundaries, whose two faces look simultaneously at what is coming and what is past. With this image in mind, we invite conference proposals that speak to bibliographic and book history themes of liminality, memory, historicity, futurity, stability, change—and the interstices between them. These might pertain to:

  • Re-imagining and revision in bibliography and book history
  • Decentering whiteness within special collections, bibliography, and book history scholarship
  • Books and print media as intersections of inclusion, exclusion, identity, and belonging
  • Innovation, traditionality, maintenance, and longevity in the theory and practise of bibliography and book history
  • Reflections on ecology, climate change, crisis, and sustainability in book history and bibliography
  • Language, translation, code-switching, and linguistic fluidity in book and print culture
  • Critical histories and legacies of book collecting in the institutional and sociological context
  • Skeuomorphism and the mutability of book form through time, space, and technology
  • Changing “literacies” — plurality in engagement with the text, narrative, and sensory culture
  • Imagination, nostalgia, personality, personas, and whimsy as influences on the material culture of the book
  • The role of labour, craft, and expertise in the production and dissemination of books

Congress 2022, as a virtual event, is being held everywhere and nowhere at once. In recognizing this, we invite participants to reflect on what it means to “acknowledge” Indigeneity and geography where they are. What does “acknowledgement” of Indigenous sovereignty and land stewardship look like as a practice? Does it begin and end as a speech act? A meaningful starting place for reflecting on personal and collective participation in enduring legacies of subjugation and dispossession? How could “acknowledgement” include considerations of Indigenous joy, beauty, and cultural attainment? We invite participants to engage sincerely with these questions.

Please submit a 250-word abstract proposal and brief biography in English or French (including your full name, professional designation, institutional affiliation, or place) no later than 28 January 2022 to proposals@bsc-sbc.ca.

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