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Inscription: the Journal of Material Text – Theory, Practice, History

Inscription is an innovative new journal which addresses the theme of the material text from a range of perspectives, bringing together the critical, historical, theoretical and creative. Inscription will be at home equally in the first century as the twenty-first and will feature 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 remit will break with the conventions of academic ghettoization, creating connections between areas that have much to say to one another –bibliography, the artist’s book, and media theory, for instance – enabling more wide-ranging conversation and unexpected juxtapositions. It promises not merely to add to the field but to set new agendas for the next phase of the development of the study of material texts.

In another break with the conventional academic journal, Inscription’s dos-à-dos format will be equally innovative: inspired by Edgar Alan Poe’s short story ‘A Descent into the Maelstrom’, the first half of the journal will be printed in columns, to be read from left to right whilst rotating in a clockwise direction towards the central spine, while the other side of the journal will be rotated 180 degrees, printed in columns from left to right, rotating in a clockwise direction, travelling towards the centre. In effect, the journal has two beginnings and no end. It will also require the reader to rotate it in their hands, in order to read it. The centre fold will be the colophon, laid out in a spiral, with the publishing information disappearing into the gutter. Each edition will have a guest artist-in-residence, poet-in-residence & writer-in-residence; and each edition will be accompanied by a vinyl LP featuring an author reading from their work.

ISSN 2634-7229 (Online)

Photograph from Michael Meschke’s production of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, 1964. Set design by Franciszka Themerson and photograph by Beata Bergström.

EditorGill Partington is co-editor of Inscription. She was Munby Fellow in Bibliography 2018-19 at University of Cambridge, and now works on the Wellcome-funded Index of Evidence project at the University of Exeter. She co-edited Book Destruction (2014) with Adam Smyth, and is currently writing Page Not Found, a book about the oddities and history of the page.

Editor : Adam Smyth is co-editor of Inscription, and Professor of English Literature and the History of the Book at Balliol College, Oxford University. His most recent books are Material Texts in Early Modern England (2018), 13 March 1911 (2019), and, with Dennis Duncan, Book Parts (2019). He is currently editing Shakespeare’s Pericles for the Arden Shakespeare series.

Editor : Simon Morris is the co-editor of Inscription, and Professor of Art at Leeds Beckett University. In 2002, he founded the publishing imprint information as material (iam) which have published over fifty books by artists and poets across the globe. www.informationasmaterial.org

Cover designErica Baum is well known for her varied photographic series capturing text and image in found printed material, from paperback books to library indexes and most recently sewing patterns. She received her MFA from Yale University in 1994 and her BA in Anthropology from Barnard in 1984. Her work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MAMCO, Geneva; Albright‐ Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. http://www.bureau-inc.com/mainsite/Artists/Erica/EricaBaum.html

Artist-in-residenceJérémie Bennequin has been developing an interdisciplinary practice as an artist that focuses on themes of time, memory and erasure. Drawing is at the heart of his visual arts practice and literature has consistently been found to be the raw material for his work and the catalyst for his ideas. He is well known for having erased the work of Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, following a rigorous methodology of one page a day for a project that lasted ten years. www.jeremiebennequin.com 

Digital artist-in-residenceCraig J. Saper, a Professor at UMBC, has published Artificial MythologiesNetworked ArtThe Amazing Adventures of Bob BrownIntimate Bureaucracies. He co-curated TypeBound (on typewriter and sculptural poetry), and was the co-founder of folkvine.org. Roving Eye Press books (all free as downloads) and links to two other books. http://rovingeyepress.umbc.edu/ He has co-edited many scholarly collections and critical editions, including in 2020 Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine. 

Poet-in-residence : Craig Dworkin is the author, most recently, of The Pine-Woods Notebook (Kenning Editions (2019) and two scholarly monographs: Dictionary Poetics: Toward a Radical Lexicography (Fordham, 2020) and Radium of the Word: A Poetics of Materiality (Chicago, 2020).  He teaches literary history and theory at the University of Utah and curates the Eclipse archive: www.eclipsearchive.org

Writer-in-residenceSean Ashton was an associate editor of MAP Magazine (2008-12) and writer for Art Review (2012–17 ). Ashton writes fiction, criticism and poetry. His novel Living in a Land (Ma Bibliothèque 2017) is a fictional memoir written in sentences constructed in the negative, while his forthcoming book Sampler (Valley Press, 2020) is a selection of excerpts from an imaginary encyclopaedia compiled entirely by poets.

Digital Designer (AR, VR & Coding)Ian Truelove is an artist, designer, lecturer and researcher based in The Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University. Ian uses old and new technologies to creates artworks and has recently published a virtual reality experience on the Steam platform: bit.ly/skinscape

Project Manager : Zara Worth is the Project manager for the Inscription Journal. Worth is a visual artist and doctoral researcher at Leeds Beckett University where she also works as a Research Assistant. Her work proposes connections between online cultures, religious icons, and the work of art through themes of value, presence and belief systems. www.zaraworth.com 

Designer : The Fraser Muggeridge Studio, London

PublisherInformation as Material, York in partnership with Leeds Beckett University

Editorial Board : Sean Ashton, Derek Beaulieu, Sarah Bodman, Christian Bök, Angie Butler, Felipe Cussen, Johanna Drucker, Dennis Duncan, Rob Fitterman, Jo Hamill, Nasser Hussain, Tina Lupton, Bonnie Mak, Kaja Marczewska, Brooke Palmieri, Craig Saper, Nick Thurston, Whitney Trettien, Daniel Wakelin, Patrick Wildgust, Abigail Williams.

Open Access Statement

Inscription is a double-blind peer-reviewed, gold open access journal. In addition to physical copies of each issue being available for purchase by subscription, all the journal articles published in each issue of Inscription are freely available on the public internet from the date of publication: permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution and the only role for copyright in this domain should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited. Correspondingly, all creative content of each issue is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. For full terms of use, visit:https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Copyright Statement

The logo of Inscription is the spiral: a mark that does not end, turning in on itself and out to meet the world; a circle that never quite returns to its starting point. We take our spiral directly from the portly stomach of Père Ubu, in a 1964 production of Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi, directed by Michael Meschke at the Marionetteatern in Stockholm. The set, designed by the Polish, later British, painter, illustrator, filmmaker and stage designer, Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988), was extraordinary, its iconography, construction and powerful use of line of an aesthetic impact similar to Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau in Hannover or Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. We are very grateful to Michael Meschke and Jasia Reichardt, who looks after the Themerson estate, for their permission to reproduce photographs of Michael Meschke’s staging of the play, taken by photographer Beata Bergström.

For more information on the extraordinary creative legacy of Michael Meschke’s production of Ubu Roi from 1964, please refer to Meschke’s own website, the Themerson archive, or the Marionettmuseet at the Scenkonstmuseet.