CfP: Layout and materiality of writing in ancient documents

Posted on behalf of Davide Amendola (Trinity College Dublin), Cristina Carusi (University of Parma), Emilio Rosamilia (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, University of Pisa), panel convenors

Call for Papers

Layout and materiality of writing in ancient documents from the Archaic Period to Late Antiquity: a Comparative Approach

Panel to be held at the International Conference in Classics and Ancient History

(Coimbra, June 22-25, 2020) 

Over the last few years, an increasing number of scholars have drawn attention to issues relating to format and layout in ancient Greek texts, techniques of reading, and the importance of writing in the legal practices of the ancient world. The goal of this panel is to explore systematically the possible similarities in aspects of layout among different categories of documents (primarily inscriptions and papyri, but also graffiti, ostraka, and wooden tablets). We also aim at discussing whether and to what extent the strategies adopted by ancient scribes and letter-cutters meant to improve the overall readability of ancient documents. Our purpose is thus primarily that of bringing together a diverse range of scholars from different backgrounds in order to examine a number of specific case studies, as well as to foster an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas on these issues.

Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • issues of mise en page (e.g. ekthesis and eisthesis, division into columns, consistency in the use of blank spaces);

  • rubrication, use of titles or subtitles, variations in the size of letters;

  • interpuncta and lectional signs, especially vacat, paragraphos, and coronis;

  • abbreviations;

  • strategies of correction, such as rasurae, interlinear additions, overwriting;

  • functionality versus ornamentality;

  • terminology and references to specific formal features of ancient documents in Graeco-Roman literary and non-literary sources;

  • treatment of such aspects in antiquarian research from Renaissance Humanism onwards (for instance, in the works of Ciriaco d’Ancona, Scipione Maffei, Jean Mabillon, etc.).

In addressing these issues, we seek to provide an answer to the following questions of more general interest: What is the relation between formats and typologies of documents? Do inscriptions mirror contemporary archival documents and to what extent? Can some features of the epigraphic practice be influenced by texts written on perishable materials? Does the use of specific lectional signs relate to specific typologies of documents? If so, is it possible to reconstruct a taxonomy of signs or to outline any developmental lines in their evolution? Is a certain level of standardisation clearly recognisable in specific categories of texts?

We invites abstracts for 40-minutes or 20-minute papers. Those who are interested in joining our panel should submit via email a 250-word abstract as attachment to by March 15, 2020. For any inquiries, please feel free to contact us at the same address.

Preferably, abstracts should be written in English. However, proposals and presentations in other languages – such as Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish – are welcome as well. Proponents should also make clear whether they are interested in giving a 20-minute or 40-minute presentation. We will review all submissions and inform submitters of our decision by March 31, 2020.

Abstracts should have: Title of communication; E-mail; University; Abstracts (max 250 words); Keywords (5 to 10 words).

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