CFP: Missing Texts Conference, Birkbeck (UoL)

The ‘Fac Simile’ of a manuscript page of the sinner’s memoirs reprinted in the front matter of James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824)

I’m tempted by this recent CFP…

MISSING TEXTS: A Conference organised by the Material Texts Network at
Birkbeck, University of London
Saturday June 2, 2012

Call for Papers
The Material Texts Network at Birkbeck convenes and encourages
innovative work on the materiality of texts. We invite 300-word
proposals, from scholars working in any period and discipline, on the
theme of ‘Missing Texts’. Papers might consider

* Texts or works that have been erased, over-painted, defaced,
cancelled, or destroyed
* Missing works that exist only through photographs or other archival traces
* Texts or works that are better known through photographs, and are
themselves rarely on display
* How do we know a text is missing? How do archives record missing
texts? If a missing text must leave a trace to be felt as missing, are
texts ever really missing?
* Texts or works overlooked for ideological, or other, reasons, in
catalogues, inventories, & canons
* The role of missing texts in literary works
* The fetishisation of the ‘missing’ ur-text in textual studies and
editorial procedures
* Pages torn from books, lost quires, blanks, unfilled miniatures,
incomplete jottings on fly-leaves
* Letters, in which only one side of the correspondence is preserved
* The use by authors of the topos of the lost text, the
text-in-the-making, the text-never-finished (‘all this will be
properly explained in our forthcoming masterpiece…’)
* What happens when we find a long-missing text or work? How do we
identify and read it?
* How do scholars address the loss of archives when writing, for
example, histories of African and
Asian nations where there are more Western texts than local ones? What
kind of scholarship develops around these gaps?
* How do missing texts relate to redactions?
* Why do texts go missing in archives? What are the historical moments
of great archival loss (for example, the archives destroyed in the
1755 earthquake of Lisbon, or the losses in German libraries during
the World War II)
* Are texts more likely to go missing in particular media (manuscript
more than print? Print more
than digital?)
* Can a text ever go missing in the digital world?

Please send 300-word proposals (for a 20 minute paper) and a brief CV
to Dr Adam Smyth ( and Dr Gill Partington
(, by 1 February 2012.