Speaking in absence: letters in the digital age

21 June 2016 8.30am 9.30pm


Lecture Theatre, Weston Library (Map)


Olivia Thompson: olivia.thompson@bodleian.ox.ac.uk


Speaking in Absence is a one-day conference, organised by Oxford students as the result of this year's Postgraduate Conference Competition run by The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH) and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW). It aims to explore the place of written correspondence in a digital age, the potential of the digital medium for correspondence research and for highlighting materiality and connection, and the implications for data and metadata curation and analysis.

The conference is the first digital humanities methodology symposium hosted by a Special Collections library, and will look at various formats by which letters can be made available digitally, and the potential for collaboration between editors, academic authors, librarians, technicians, publishers and writers.

The daytime part of the conference (8.30am-5pm) will take place in the Lecture Theatre at the Weston Library. Activities will include:

  • opening lecture on 'The errors of our ways when editing letters', by Christopher Ricks
  • panel discussion with the leaders of pioneering digital editing projects (Electronic Enlightenment, Darwin Correspondence Project, and Cultures of Knowledge)
  • demonstration of the process of digitizing letters by Miranda Lewis (Digital Editor, Early Modern Letters Online)
  • visual tour of correspondence in the Bodleian collections led by Special Collections curators
  • publishing panel with representatives from Oxford University Press and Blackwell's

It will also include the launch (with discussion) of Bodleian Student Editions, a digital scholarly editing course organised as a collaboration between the Bodleian's Department of Special Collections, Centre for Digital Scholarship, and Early Modern Letters Online.

The evening part of the conference (5.30–9.30pm), including a panel of writers and directors, poster presentations from DPhil students, drinks reception and conference dinner, will take place at Wolfson College.

For further information, please visit the conference website.

Throughout the day in Blackwell Hall there will be a temporary exhibition of physical correspondence from a range of Bodleian collections, including a note to Alan Bennett from 'the lady in the van', a letter sent from the trenches 'under a hell of a fire', a book of deciphered royalist letters, and a Greek papyrus letter from an Egyptian boy demanding a lyre from his father. Images of letters used in student teaching activities related to the conference will feature on the digital screens.


Ticket prices and options
  • Standard conference registration fee (8:30-19:00) excluding dinner - £45
  • Undergraduate conference registration fee (8:30-19:00) excluding dinner - £20
  • Dinner for attendees of daytime conference events - £30
  • Evening activities at Wolfson College only (17:30-21:30) panel, reception and dinner - £30

Book tickets (you will be taken to the conference website)

This event is listed under: Conferences & symposia
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