CFP: Panel, The History of Writing Practices and Scribal Culture, Jinan, China, 23-29 August 2015

Deadline: 30 November 2013

International Congress for Historical Sciences (CISH), Jinan, China, 23-29 August 2015

The History of Writing Practices and Scribal Culture (Specialised Session)

Problématique & Call for Papers

This panel investigates the history of writing as a cultural practice in a variety of contexts and periods. We seek to analyse the rituals and practices determining intimate or ‘ordinary’ writing as well as bureaucratic and religious writing, and to arrive thereby at a clearer understanding of the place and importance of the act of writing. From the inscribed images of ‘pre-literate’ societies, to the public inscriptions of the ancient world and the democratization of writing in the modern era, access to writing technology and its public and private uses will be analysed.

Our objective is to examine the uses and functions of writing in non-alphabetical as well as alphabetical script. Although the main focus will be on cultural history, participants are invited to deploy interdisciplinary approaches wherever appropriate, including paleographic expertise, anthropological perspectives and the insights of literary studies.

The panel may address the following topics:

  • the history of postal services
  • the history of learning how to write
  • the uneven distribution of writing skills
  • etiquette manuals and instructions on writing
  • letter-writing practices of all social groups
  • letters of emigrants, soldiers and prisoners
  • scrapbooks, commonplace books, livres de famille
  • hymns and written prayers for divine assistance or saintly intercession
  • ‘writing upwards’ from the weak to the powerful
  • autobiographies, memoirs and diaries

although this is not an exhaustive agenda.

Papers on the history of writing in ‘non-western’ societies are especially welcome.

Papers in this panel (and proposals for papers) may be presented either in English, French or Spanish. However, an English version of the final paper must be produced for the congress website and panel audience.

Proposals must be sent as an e-mail attachment in MS-Word by 30 November 2013 to both of the following, and should clearly identify the panel for which they are intended, i.e. specialised session no 1 on The History of Writing Practices and Scribal Culture:

Martyn Lyons, School of Humanities, University of New South Wales,

Robert Frank, Secretary-General, CISH,

Proposals should be a maximum of 2,500 characters – 350 words and should be sent with a short biographical note. Please note that individual papers will not exceed a length of 30,000 to 35,000 characters; presenters will have only a short time to present their communications which should be posted to the congress website well in advance of the event.

CISH participants are expected to pay for their own travel and accommodation expenses, as well as congress registration fees. More details of the congress programme as a whole can be found on the CISH website at




Leave a comment


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s