CFP – Text/ures: Books as Objects, from Print to Digital

Text/ures: Books as Objects, from Print to Digital
International Symposium

Les Archives nationales, Bibliothèque nationale de France, École nationale des Arts Décoratifs (Paris)
November 19-21, 2014
With the support of Labex Arts-H2, EA 1569, and Paragraphe (EA 349), Université Paris 8
Sponsored by ANR program Investissements d’avenir (ANR-10-LABX-80-0.)

« Text/ures » Project Chairs: Anne Chassagnol and Gwen Le Cor (Université Paris 8, EA1569)
Project website:

Keynote Speakers:

David A. Carter (pop-up artist, USA), Bertrand Gervais (UQAM, Montreal), Jerome Fletcher (Falmouth University, UK), Steve Tomasula (University of Notre Dame, USA)

Call for Papers

Text/ures: Books as objects, from print to digital is an international and trans-disciplinary project that explores a wide scope of hybrid objects ranging from artist books, movable books and book sculptures to composite works of contemporary literature and digital books. Situated at a crossroads of literature and graphic and visual art culture, all these works elude labeling. We intend “Text/ures” as an investigation of the links between text and fabric—the way textual material is emphasized, activated even, by paper or digital mechanisms. Who are these objects intended for? Which reading temporality or which temporizing do these works necessitate? How is sense offered, proposed, displayed? More generally, are these book-objects destined to be seen, read, exhibited, unfolded, collected or archived? We would like the proposals to delve into the material and fabric of the textual compositions as well as to focus on the haptic dimension of these three-dimensional unfolding paper structures. This symposium seeks to explore the intersections between children’s literature, contemporary literature and artist books through their shared history or evolution towards a new form of materiality. We encourage proposals on the following themes as well as those that weave diverging approaches on possible forms of texture in book-objects:

Textures of Children’s Literature

Pop-up books, flip-books, tunnel books, and carousel books can be analyzed from a historical perspective. Hybrid by nature, neither children’s books nor solely artist’s books, they offer a reading dynamics where the realm of childhood and the world of art meet in a variety of experimentations by creating enchanting origami or typographic sculptures. To what extent can we consider pop-up books as sensory objects? How does the reader navigate through the different textures of these books? To what extent can we consider that architecture, kinetic art, photography and cinema may have influenced the texture of animated books? How do they negotiate the refashioning of old media by new media?

Contemporary Textures and Writings

We seek to explore texts whose work with substance, texture and visual forms makes them permeable to the themes captured in artist books. Proposals should investigate the poetic textile in its very materiality by focusing on book-objects and art works whose textures question writing as a purely textual form. Whether we think of W.J.T. Mitchell’s imagetexts and other forms of visual and textual interweavings (Steve Tomasula’s VAS: An Opera in Flatland), or whether we consider layerings (Tom Phillips A Humument), die-cuts (Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes), or stitching and weaving effects (Jen Bervin, Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Fifty Year Sword), what is at stake here is the way sense becomes touch generated in the texture of the book-object. Proposals can also focus on the way in which contemporary writings rework the notion of the book—what is a page, a leaf? What is a digital “book”?—and, in turn, question the act of reading. For Johanna Drucker, the temporality of reading is distinct from that of viewing, and thus of visual art: “books are time-based media. They unfold in sequence (fixed or not) over time, require a certain amount of attention, and can’t be taken in in the ‘all at once glance’ mode we have come to believe is the correct way of viewing visual art” (Figuring the Word). Should books as objects be grasped as visual works of art or do they inaugurate a new type of narrative sequencing? How then, do we read the texture of book-objects?

Archiving Texture: Exhibiting, Distributing and Restoring Books as Objects

The three dimensional format of book-objects and their distinct architectural features, also invite reflections on issues of conservation. As Jacques Derrida explains, “consignation aims to coordinate a single corpus, in a system or a synchrony in which all the elements articulate the unity of an ideal configuration” (Archive Fever). In this respect, we might ask ourselves how can we record the heterogeneity of the book-object. More precisely, how do we conserve the plurality of meaning that is woven in the volume, touch, and folds of the text? How do we record the compound sense construction that emerges from the fleeting nature of a reading-performance? How do libraries interact with book-objects? We could also delve into the remediation of texture in its transition from print to the digital, or focus on digital porting with its array of constraints and selections.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit your 300-400 word abstract using the EasyChair Conference system ( before April 30, 2014. Proposals can be in English or in French and should include a title, biography and contact information of contributors. For further information please contact: