Paper Trails Conference, 4th July 2019, University College London

Paper Trails Conference, 4th July 2019, University College London

Dr Andrew W. M. Smith

Often there is
more than research inside the books we read. Bookmarks, train tickets,
receipts, and menus tucked into pages offer clues about the life of the book
itself. Yet 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?

This is not
strictly an intellectual history, nor even a material book history, but
something more like a social history…

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