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Call for Papers: Paper Trails Conference, 4th July 2019

Helen FBiggs8 April 2019

We are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting this year’s Paper Trails conference, working with Dr Andrew W M Smith (University of Chichister) alongside many other fantastic historians, researchers, archivists, librarians and educators. The conference is scheduled to take place at UCL on July 4th, 2019.

Dr Smith writes:

The lives of our research material often go unmarked, lost between the gaps in disciplinary boundaries and narrow definitions. The biographies of books and documents can illuminate their contexts, as printed matter that is sold, passed down or abandoned. What happens when we consider the three moments of production, transmission, and reception together with our own research stories? Documents, like people, have births, lives, and even deaths, so what does it mean to investigate the biographies of texts, objects, and archival records? Beyond the formal roles of cataloguing and archiving, what part do researchers play in shaping the emergent archive?


The organisers are inviting contributors to submit abstracts for papers to be delivered at this workshop, and for consideration to be published in a new platform to be launched with UCL Press. We are interested in a broad geographical and chronological scope, and would strongly welcome a diverse range of topics, papers and speakers. Papers should consider question such as:

  • Has the life cycle of a book, document or object helped develop its context for you?
  • Have you found “stuff” tucked in the pages of a book and wondered who read it before you and what they did afterwards?
  • Has the course of your research been shaped by encountering ‘serendipity in the archive’?

We are encouraging a focus on research stories to invite a more reflective methodology, offering a more inclusive and engaged commentary on the work involved in researching, ordering, and preserving the past.

Please send in proposals of a maximum of 250 words for papers of 15-20 minutes (although we are open to accommodating shorter papers). Please also attach a short CV or biographical presentation, of no more than 1 page. All are welcome! Proposals should be sent to papertrailsconference@gmail.com by 5pm on  24th May 2019. 

For further information, see the call for papers at Dr Smith’s blog, or contact him directly.