Call for Papers extended to 18 December 2017

From First to Last
Texts, Creators, Readers, Agents

We are pleased to announce the 26th annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP). SHARP 2018, “From First to Last Texts, Creators, Readers, Agents,” will be held at Western Sydney University, New South Wales, Australia, from Monday 9th July to Thursday 12th July 2018, with an optional excursion (details TBC) on Friday 13th July 2018.

As SHARP moves into its next 25 years, participants are encouraged to think creatively about how the book has been an agent that both anchors cultural continuities and provokes changes in mentalities throughout human history; the connectivity between oral / aural traditions and written cultures etc.; challenging assumptions about centre / periphery and Anglo / Euro-centrisms in Book History; and states of the discipline which address book historiographical concerns and trends, but also stimulate Book History to become truly adventurous and methodologically innovative.

In the fictional work The Last Witchfinder (James Morrow, 2006), the book’s narrator—also a book, in this case Newton’s Principia Mathematica—claimed that “unlike you humans, a book always remembers its moment of conception”. Equally we might argue that a text rarely ever dies and may go through many rebirths and incarnations. The conference theme of origins, endings and renewal may be approached from several angles. Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

What is the beginning and the end of the book?

Exploding book histories, geographies and chronologies;

Alternative models: knowledge communities and practice in Indigenous cultures.

Transitions, overlaps and reinventions in orality, manuscript, print and the digital;

Transhistorical, transgender and transcultural comparisons in book history;

Books and the non-human / post-human world;

The textual human and the human text;

Literary agents and non-literary forms of agency that shift book history conventions;

The many lives of books: destroying, defacing, unmaking, repairing & restoring texts;

Non-literary forces, power structures, language politics and the book;

Authorship, originality and creative processes;

Materialising text and making containers;

Primary motives and end rewards in publishing and related industries; and

Temporalities, durations and revolutions in reading.

SHARP 2018 acknowledges that this conference takes place on ‘unceded’ Aboriginal territory and thus recognises the rich and deep history of Aboriginal publishing and mark making as well as Indigenous forms of communication – from oral storytelling to wampum to message sticks to modern publishing technology. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures arguably have the longest continuous tradition of reproducing stories and other communications in both written and visual forms. We invite presenters to think about the conference theme from the perspective of your own First Peoples communities, knowledge systems, and cultural positioning.

Papers that do not directly address the conference’s main themes are welcome too! SHARP 2018 is intended to be an interdisciplinary multilingual destination for scholars, students, industry, practitioners, and all lovers of things bookish, embracing domains such as digital humanities and digital history as well as building connections with publishing studies, information history, reading studies, cultural studies, art and design history — indeed those who are doing book history without knowing it!

9 July 2018
State Library of New South Wales
Sydney CBD, New South Wales, Australia

10-12 July 2018
Western Sydney University
Parramatta South Campus, New South Wales, Australia

13 July 2018
Optional Excursions
New South Wales, Australia


Proposals must be submitted electronically via the conference website. The official online submission process will open 15 September 2017 and close 18 December 2017.

SHARP sessions are generally 90 minutes long, composed of three 20-minute papers plus a discussion period. Proposals for individual papers must include a title, an abstract (max. 250 words), and a short biography of the presenter (max. 100 words).

Proposals are also welcomed for full paper panels, lightning talks, posters, and digital project demonstrations. Proposals for full panels must include a panel title and a panel abstract (max. 250 words) that outlines the main theme(s) of the panel. In addition, the proposal must include individual titles, abstracts (max. 250 words), and short biographies (max. 100 words) for each participant in the panel. Please use the ‘Add Author’ button to list all the participants. The abstract box should include the abstract for the panel plus the titles and abstracts of the individual presentations. Do not include any speakers’ names in this box. Please indicate if you already have someone to chair the panel; otherwise, a chair will be assigned to you.

Proposals for 5-minute lightning talks, poster presentations and digital project demonstrations must include a title, abstract (max. 250 words), and short biography (max. 100 words) for presenters. Of note, basic audio-visual technology will be provided for sessions, but digital project presenters are encouraged to bring their own laptop, as this session will take form of a poster session-styled Digital Projects Showcase.

We are pleased to welcome proposals in all languages of the SHARP community; note that the chief working language of past gatherings has been English.


Membership in SHARP is required for all presenters. Membership is not necessary for the submission of a proposal but those whose proposals are accepted must join SHARP or renew their membership for 2018 before registering for the conference.


SHARP can provide a limited number of travel grants to graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and independent scholars; these bursaries can also be used to contribute towards the additional costs of care for any attendee. If you wish to be considered for such a grant, please state this in the Comments for the Conference Director box when submitting your proposal. If you are proposing a panel and one or more members of the panel are seeking support, please give their names in the appropriate box.


The deadline for all submissions is 18 December 2017. The program committee will send notifications of its selection in February 2018.

Controlled Submission Vocabularies

For the conference proposal keywords field, please draw on the below suggestions. This vocabulary is meant to be indicative, not prescriptive; if you find that the appropriate terminology is missing from this list, please use the term “Other”.

Geographical Focus

  • Africa: Egypt; Ethiopia; Kenya; Mozambique; Nigeria; North Africa; South Africa; Sudan; West Africa
  • Asia: China; East Asia; states; India/Subcontinent; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Japan; Korea; Middle East; Russia (Eurasia); Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Asia; Syria; Taiwan
  • Europe: Baltic Region; Belgium; Central Europe; Denmark; Eastern Europe; England; Finland; France; Germany; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Netherlands; Norway; Northern Ireland; Portugal; Russia (Eurasian); Scandinavia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Wales; Other European countries
  • North America: Canada; Mexico; United States
  • Oceania: Australia; Fiji; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea
  • South America: Argentina; Brazil; Colombia; Latin America; Peru; Other South American countries
  • Global and Other Geographic Interests: British Empire; Roman Empire; Reading in Antarctic

Historical Period

  • Pre-Codex; Incunabula; Medieval; 16th Century; 17th Century; 18th Century; 19th Century; 20th Century; 21st Century


  • Artist’s Books; Authorship; Bibliography; Bindings; Book Arts; Book Trade; Bookbinding; Bookselling; Censorship; Cheap Print; Children’s Literature; Collecting; Colonial; Copyright; Digital Culture; Digital Humanities; Editing; Editors; Ephemera; Globalisation; GIS; Graphic Novels; Illustration; Image and Text; Internationalisation; Libraries; Literary Agency/Agents; Literacy; Manuscript; Maps and Cartography; Marginalia; Materiality of Texts; Media Ecology; Music; Newspapers; Orality; Papermaking; Paratextual Elements; Periodicals; Postcolonial; Print Culture; Printing; Publishing; Reading; Reception; Scribal Culture; Self-publishing; Serials/Serialization; Technologies of Writing; Technology of Text Production; Theories of the Book; Translation; Typography; Women.