SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Multiple impressions: the coexistence of scribal practices and printing technologies in texts


Date: 13 June 2018Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 13 June 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Symposium

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An interdisciplinary symposium and workshop for graduate students and early-career researchers: jointly-organised by the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading, the British Library


Histories of the production and reproduction of texts in Asian and African geographies by copyists, scriptoria, or printers, can hardly be described as clean and seamless transitions from one method to the next. The clear compartmentalisation of historical periods of textual production and reproduction, while a useful device for analysis, may not always be an authentic representation of how text-producing and reproducing practices migrate between manuscript, typography, engraving, and lithography. As new technologies and techniques are invented or introduced, entrenched practices and techniques often persist; coexisting, influencing, and ultimately meshing with these newer methods of (re)production.

A classical, courtly, religious, or quotidian text printed on a typographic or lithographic press may latterly be finished with hand rubrication and colouring. It may additionally contain interlinear handwritten glosses or illumination added prior to, or after being bound. The ‘in-betweenness’ of textual and paratextual content in many extant historical and contemporary artefacts attests to the complexities and layers behind this ‘coexistence’. Such evidence also suggests the presence of parallel activities – scribal traditions and practices used simultaneously with, and not displaced by the introduction and proliferation of printing technologies.

This symposium, organised by, and featuring papers from graduate students and researchers from a variety of institutions, seeks to discuss how historically, methods of producing and reproducing texts, by stylus, pen, or press, are often entangled in both contesting and complimentary streams, in a variety of localities.

Symposium programme

10:30 – 10:45

Registration (15 minutes)

10:45 – 11:00

Opening remarks (15 minutes)

11:00 – 12:00

Panel 1: 2 papers (60 minutes)      

20 minutes for delivery, 10 minutes for Q&A after each paper

12:00 – 13:00

Lunch (60 minutes)

13:00 – 14:30

Panel 2: 3 papers (90 minutes)

14:30 – 15:00

Break (30 minutes)

15:00 – 16:00

Panel 3: 2 papers (60 minutes)

16:00 – 17:00

Panellists’ discussion and closing remarks (60 minutes)

17:30 – 19:00

British Library collections session (90 minutes)        

Pre-registration required (presenters & organisers are automatically included in this session)

Chair for panellists’ discussion and closing remarks

Dr Camillo A. Formigatti (John Clay Sanskrit Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, The Weston Library)

Panel themes and papers

1. Intermingling of processes

Jasdip Singh Dhillon (Library and Archive Conservator, Oxford Conservation Consortium)

‘Renaissance or death-knell: Did lithography mark the end or a new beginning for Sikh manuscript culture?’

Wei Jin Darryl Lim (PhD, Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading)

‘Poly-autography in Singapore: early experiments, practices, and anomalies in 19th-century “printed manuscripts”’

2. Artefacts, production, and techniques

Marta Dos Santos (MA in Chinese Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies)

‘Printing for salvation: the production of the morality book Yuli Chao Chuan Jingshi as a hell-avoiding strategy in late Imperial China’

Arnab Dutta (PhD, The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

‘The Praxis of Bangla horizontal bookmaking: scribes, printed texts and a history of reading’

Lara Yang (PhD, Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies)

‘A literary and visual experiment: the multiple editions of Let One Hundred Flowers Blossom written by Guo Moruo’

3. Materials and processes

Borna Izadpanah (PhD, Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading)

‘Mīrzā Malkum Khān’s reformed Arabic alphabet’

Vaibhav Singh (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Reading)

‘Manual or mechanical? Adaptation, innovation, labour, and typographic technologies in 1930s India’


Dr Mulaika Hijjas (SOAS) and Wei Jin Darryl Lim (University of Reading)