Material Culture Web Workshop May 2017

Material Culture and Writing Practice from Antiquity to the Early Modern period: an interdisciplinary workshop

25th to 26th May 2017

Sibson Building, Seminar room 6, University of Kent

Registration fees: £40 or £20 (discounted price). Bookings open.

Organised by the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology, and Centre for Early Medieval and Modern Studies, University of Kent, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading,

Supported by the School of European Culture and Languages and School of English, University of Kent, the Roman Society, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading.

Literacy is a central aspect of society from antiquity to the present day, but there is often a disconnect between the study of written texts and the attention paid to the materiality of their production and consumption. This workshop aims to address the particular qualities of the materiality of writing in the pre-modern period, an era in which the technologies of writing by hand were paramount. Scholars researching material aspects of writing exist within diverse disciplines (Archaeology, Art-history, Calligraphy, Classics, English, History, Papyrology and Palaeography). Methods and approaches are diverse, ranging from studies of writing form and style, to technologies of writing and the wider social context of literacy and cultural transmission. Within individual disciplines, there are established traditions of scholarship that tend to constrain how the material is approached, and there is little cross-fertilization between scholars working either in different periods, or from different disciplinary perspectives. The workshop brings together scholars and experts across a wide range of periods and disciplines to foster new perspectives and to explore future directions that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. This will include a consideration of writing as a material practice, the subsequent treatment and curation of writing documents, and the relationship between writing equipment and written documents. We will provide a fresh exploration of writing practices from Antiquity to the Early Modern period and consider the interplay between practices of literacy and diverse aspects of social and cultural identities and experience. A practical calligraphy session and a trip to Canterbury Cathedral Archive are included in order to foster an awareness of the material processes and equipment of writing, enabling scholars to gain new perspectives on the historical material culture that they study.


Thursday 25 May from 11 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. (Sibson Building, Seminar Room 6, University of Kent)
11.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Coffee and registration (Foyer of Sibson Building)
Papers are 15 minutes long with 5 minutes for questions.

Session: Economy of Manuscripts
12.00- 12.20 p.m. Alison Wiggins: Material meanings and Tudor bookkeeping: the case of the production and reception of Bess of Hardwick’s household financial accounts (c.1548-1608)
12.20- 12.40 Julia Crick: Calligraphy and cursivity in Insular writing before 1050.
12.40 – 1.00 p.m. Ryan Perry: Utility Grade Scripts and Manuals of Religious Instruction
1.00 p.m. – 2.00 p.m. Lunch (Foyer of Sibson Building)

Session: Writing Equipment and Writing Practice
2.00 – 2.20 p.m. Peter Kruschwitz: Thinking about writing
2.20- 2.40 p.m. Ellen Swift: Investigating the relationship between writing equipment and writing practice: book hands and Roman and late antique reed pens
2.40- 3.00 p.m. Susan Moor:  Framing the Page: measurement and freedom in medieval manuscripts
3.00 – 3.30 p.m. Coffee  (Foyer of Sibson Building)
3.30-3.50 p.m. Hella Eckardt: Writing in ink – the archaeology of Roman inkwells
3.50- 4.10 p.m. Ewan Clayton:  A craftsman’s perspective on scribal workplaces: ancient and modern (keynote)

4.10 – 5.00 p.m. Discussion

Friday 26 May from 10 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. (Woolf College, Seminar Room 6, University of Kent)
Session: Transmission of writing/circulation of texts
10.00  – 10.20 a.m. Matthew Nicholls: Libraries and writing in the Roman world
10.20 – 10.40 a.m. Simon Horobin:  “Go litel bok”: The Manuscript Circulation of Chaucer’s Works
10.40 – 11.00 a.m. Daniel Smith: Unfolding action: letters as props in the early modern theatre
11.00 – 11.30 a.m. Coffee (Foyer of Woolf College)
11.30 – 12. 00 p.m. Discussion
12.00 pm. – 1.30 p.m. Lunch (Foyer of Woolf College)
1.30  – 2.00 p.m. Cherrell Avery, Calligraphy Drop-in session (Woolf Seminar Room 6)
2.00 – 4.00 p.m. Cherrell Avery, Calligraphy Workshop on Uncial Script (Woolf Seminar Room 6).
3.00 – 4.00 p.m. Cathedral Archive Tour  (Cathedral staff)

We are pleased to confirm that we are able to accommodate everyone’s first choice for Friday afternoon activities. For those taking the archive tour, you may wish to attend the calligraphy drop-in session before leaving campus.

It takes about half an hour to walk into the centre of town from campus, or there are regular buses.