Conference on literary archives at Exeter University, 2-3 October 2010

Exeter University will host a conference in October which is based around literary archives.

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The conference at Exeter University is based around literary archives. On the day there will be Ted Hughes manuscripts on display and a chance to look round this and the university's other literary archives.

Here is the Call for Papers (Deadline 7 May 2010)

Call for Papers: Reclamation and representation: the boundaries of the literary archive, University of Exeter, 2-3rd October 2010

"Even scholars who are able to globetrot from collection to collection end up relying heavily upon their inadequate memories, notes, photocopies, and photographs to compensate for the distances in time and space between collections. Seeing the original prints, paintings, manuscripts, and typographical works is good in itself; but seeing them in fine, trustworthy reproductions, in context and relation to one another is the scholarly ideal. Difficulty of access to original and reliance on inadequate reproductions has handicapped and distorted even the best efforts... the result has all too frequently been distortions of the record, misconstructions, and the waste of considerable scholarly labor." (Joseph Viscom 2002)

Confirmed Keynote speakers:

Prof. Helen Taylor (University of Exeter)

Dr Wim Van Mierlo (University of London)

This two day event explores issues of reclamation and representation within literary archive. The event seeks to foreground original archival research into literary legacies and the processes of authorial representation through research. Our main objective is to explore the unique methodological challenges and questions that arise from archival investigation, and how research working with the varied archival materials can both reclaim and re-cast authorial personas and scholarly interpretations of their work.

The event will include sessions that use some of the literary papers held in the University of Exeter’s Special Collections as a way of highlighting issues in archival research.  Exeter’s collections are particularly rich in archival sources on writers of the South West region—such as Ted Hughes, Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, John Betjeman, Henry Williamson, and TS Eliot—BUT we welcome papers exploring questions which have wider application in archival research.

Proposals for individual papers of 20 minutes are invited. Possible topics might include:

  • The challenges of recreating the draft in scholarly writing-- re-representing an author’s works from archival sources
  • The negotiation of biographical and textual difficulties and their impact upon how writers are known
  • Questions of authority surrounding pre-texts and printed texts, and the interface between them
  • The impact of ‘anecdotal’ archival material and evidence upon the shaping of literary histories
  • Reconstituting ‘the canon’ in the reclamation of lost authors
  • The location of newly discovered manuscripts within intertextual critical networks and literary histories - e.g. Issues of theoretical conflict between the decentring of the author and the recovering of writers within theories of race / gender / colonialism etc.
  • The search for authorial ‘presence’ in the archive in attempts to reconstruct biographical histories
  • The ‘fetishism of the document’ in archival studies
  • Archival silences
  • The details of archival acquisition and its impact upon authorial representation
  • Questions of copyright issues and their shaping of authorial scholarship and/or authorial representation
  • The impact of archival restrictions upon research and scholarship
  • The development of digital archives and their influence upon literary scholarship
  • Ownership of archives—what effect do issues such as archival location, / corporation funding have on the type of scholarship on particular literary figures and their representation?

We particularly invite papers on writers with connections to the South West, although all contributions are welcome.

Please submit 200-300 word abstracts, including a short biographical note, to Lisa Stead (lrs204 {at} or Carrie Smith      (crs202 {at}

Deadline for submissions: 7th May 2010.