manuscript matters: (re)collections - A Workshop
17 March 2016
manuscript matters: (re)collections
Tombouctou Manuscripts Project
University of Cape Town
29-31 March 2016
When Roger Chartier wrote, “reading is always reading something,” he wanted to stress the tangible dimension of reading practices. In parallel, we could say that “writing is always writing on something.” Ideas and thoughts took written form and turned into manuscripts. But the vehicle for their transmission, the manuscript book, is not accidental and merely a vessel or carrier. It is a material object, a vehicle for the transmission of embodied knowledge. Where did the paper come from? What types of inks and pens were used? How were the manuscript leaves kept together and what went into the production of their enclosures?
We are seeking to reflect on the manuscript as a material object. We do not want to ignore content, ideas or text, but we want to explore the manuscript as a tangible object around which a set of cultural practices developed. The manuscript book, besides its materiality, also bears traces of writing practices. Did writers start with drafts and dispose of those drafted papers? Did they have fully formed ideas and just write them out flawlessly on a page? How many pages could they write in one session of writing? How were copies made and/or unmade?