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Call for Participants | Resembling Science: The Unruly Object

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on September 16, 2016

This working group will meet at the RBS-Mellon Conference Bibliography among the Disciplines in October 2017.

Resembling Science: The Unruly Object across the Disciplines
Philadelphia, 12–15 October 2017

Proposals due by 25 October 2016

Organizers: Meghan Doherty (Berea College), Dahlia Porter (University of North Texas), and Courtney Roby (Cornell University)

The task of transforming observation and experience into representational media is a constant concern in the long history of scientific knowledge. We might even argue that the history of of consolidating and communicating scientific thought is structured by a tension between two kinds of unruly objects: the objects we seek to represent, and the objects produced by representational media. Scientific media instantiate a wide range of representational modes, from drawings, tables, and diagrams to printed text and script in various languages. In this working group, we will examine the strategies deployed by writers and artists to transform material objects—whether a body, a specimen, a machine, or an observed phenomena—into knowledge that could be shared and disseminated materially as image, text, and/or book.

This working group will meet for four sessions over three days (see schedule below) to discuss the tension between the unruly material object and the equally unruly materiality of the objects used to represent it. In so doing, we seek to promote conversations about the tools, practices, and processes of scientific knowledge making across modern disciplinary divisions. What verbal and visual strategies are used to discipline objects of scientific study? How do the conventions of description and depiction render objects knowable to particular communities, or within a specific cultural context? Within any given context, is it possible to identify a ‘visual grammar’, or ‘regime of description’, on which scientific knowledge depends? How does the combination of text and image forward, or disrupt, the communication of scientific ideas? What methods of analysis or interpretive approaches might advance the study of images, texts, and objects across the history of science?

Interested scholars, librarians, curators, and members of the book trade are invited to send statements of interest describing a particular representational problem or proposing a case study that exemplifies the materiality of scientific knowledge. Statements may address any national tradition or time period from antiquity to the present; those focused on non-western representational traditions are particularly welcome.

Participants should be able to commit to attending all sessions of the working group:
Thursday, 12 October 2017, 2:00–5:00
Friday, 13 October 2017, 1:45–3:15
Saturday, 14 October 2017, 10:45–12:15

Participants should further be able to commit to meeting again within one year after the conference to work toward the final publication of the results of the working group. In their statements of interest, participants should indicate their availability to meet during the year following the conference (e.g., will you be abroad—if so, when, and do you anticipate that you will have sufficient internet connectivity to meet virtually?).

In order to be considered please submit proposals for participation by 25 October 2016 here. Proposals should include a statement of interest of no more than 250 words, outlining your relevant research, what you hope to contribute toward the group, and what you hope to take away from it.

Bibliography among the Disciplines, a four-day international conference, will bring together scholarly professionals poised to address current problems pertaining to the study of textual artifacts that cross scholarly, pedagogical, professional, and curatorial domains. The conference will explore theories and methods common to the object-oriented disciplines, such as anthropology and archaeology, but new to bibliography. The program aims to promote focused cross-disciplinary exchange and future scholarly collaborations. Bibliography among the Disciplines is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and organized by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School.

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