Call for Submissions
Deadline for completed articles: 1 May 2022
Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History launched in 2020, edited by Simon Morris, Gill Partington and Adam Smyth, and published by the artist’s book imprint information as material in partnership with Leeds Beckett University. Inscription brings together the critical, historical, theoretical and creative, and features work by practitioners – book artists, printmakers and writers – alongside academic discussion. Its focus is not just on the meanings and uses of the codex book, but also the nature of writing surfaces, the process of mark marking and printing. The journal’s theoretically aware, trans-historical and cross-disciplinary breaks with the conventions of academic ghettoization, creating connections between bibliography, the artist’s book, and media theory, enabling new conversations and unexpected juxtapositions. As an object, Inscription redefines what a journal can be: each edition is a formally innovative multi-media artefact, featuring a guest artist-in-residence, poet-in-residence and writer-in-residence.
Our theme for issue 3 is ‘folds’. The fold is a structure fundamental to the very existence of the book, whose manufacture has historically involved the complex origami of large printed sheets folded into quires. The book was often sold with its leaves still folded, its pages joined until later cut open (some volumes remain for centuries in libraries with pages uncut). But the book has also existed in many alternative formats: the vertical folds of the eighteenth century ‘flap book’ or Harlequinade; the concertina pleats of Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966); the interactive toy books of the Victorian period which, like those of German paper engineer Lothar Meggendorfer, could fold out magically into the three-dimensional space of the house or the theatre of the circus ring. The fold has the potential to complicate the logic of the page. As Erica Baum’s Dog Ear (2011) demonstrates, a fold might establish a new relationship between the two sides of a leaf: by folding, the back page appears layered on top of the front, and we can see both sides at once. And folds can often conceal as well as reveal: the artist Sarah Campbell’s What You thought was a Book (2015) is actually a crumpled sheet of paper, whose apparently random tucks and wrinkles prevent the printed text from being read. Jana Dambrogio and Daniel Starza Smith have recently explored the many early modern ‘letterlocking’ techniques designed to seal messages in secrecy until they reached their destination. In epistolary culture, crease marks might signify degrees of intimacy, significance, or matters of social class. In the context of libraries and archives, there are still other ways to read a fold. As Nicholson Baker’s polemical Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (2001) explored, librarians and preservation administrators have sometimes used the ‘double fold test’ (folding down one page corner, then folding it back in the opposite direction) to determine the brittleness of paper, and so the prospects for preservation.
We invite contributions that consider the history, uses and meanings of the fold from any angle and from any period. Themes might include:
- imposition, printing history and folds as part of book production
- histories of letter-writing, folding and secrecy
- folding as damage, and folding as sign
- folds as marks of use: what can dog ears and damage tell us? Do folds signal reading in process, or reading that has stopped?
- the fold as a storytelling device: what different narrative arrangements are enabled by (un)folding techniques?
- folds as a way of extending, altering or subverting the workings of the page
- the uncertain relationship between ‘book’ and other folded paper structures, such as envelopes, maps or interactive paper toys
- topological theory and the fold’s more metaphysical or philosophical dimensions
- paper engineering, flatness and three-dimensional structures
- folds in the material texts of other cultures, such as Origami.
Submissions should be between 5-8,000 words, and can take the form of scholarly articles as well as creative-critical pieces or more unorthodox works. The deadline for completed articles is 1 May 2022, for publication in Autumn 2022. Expressions of interest or short proposals are welcome at any point prior to this. Authors are welcome to include images with their text but images selected must be high resolution (.jpg or .tiff) and copyright permissions must be obtained by the author prior to the submission deadline. All contributions will be double blind peer reviewed, and material will be available for Open Access.
Contributions or expressions of interest should be emailed to the editors at Inscriptionthejournal@gmail.com.