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Women in Print: production, distribution and consumption


  • Winterbourne House & Garden Edgbaston Park Road Birmingham, England, B15 United Kingdom (map)

Deadline for proposals: FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER 2017

Keynote speakers: Dr Nadine Chahine (Type Director and Legibility Expert, Monotype, UK); Ann Field (Marx Memorial Library, London); Professor Helen Smith (Director, Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, University of York)

In conjunction with Winterbourne House and Garden, the Centre for Printing History and Culture is organising a two-day international conference, which aims to review and reassess the contribution made by women to printing and print culture from its origins to the present day.

Women have always played a pivotal role in the production, distribution and consumption of print. In 1998 Leslie Howsam observed: ‘… women can be identified at every node of the [book production] cycle and at all periods in history, from the printers’ widows operating independently in the craft guilds of early modern Europe to the avid readership of romance novels, not to mention a strong tradition of women’s writing.’  Women worked in printing houses, in the book trades, and they designed and consumed print in a male-dominated world.

However, the social and economic conditions under which their activity took place requires further investigation. Women have used print to question their role and status, challenge male privilege and subvert representations of women that were used to justify the political, social and economic status quo.

This conference coincides with the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which granted the right to vote to British women over the age of 30. Central to the campaign for female suffrage was printed material: pamphlets, posters, plays, fiction, poetry, flyers, banners and newspapers were all utilised in support of the suffragettes’ cause.  This use of printing technology is indicative of the wider engagement of women with print culture throughout world history.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to recover the lives, work and impact of women who have been active in all aspects of printing and print culture, and to assess those contributions that may have been neglected or undervalued. We welcome proposals from academics, students, independent researchers and practitioners who are engaged in any research or practice in this area.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Women in the printing and book trades
  • Women as printers and publishers
  • Printing and education
  • Printing applications and innovations
  • The printing industry and processes
  • Print and politics
  • Print and feminism
  • Type and typographic design
  • Book and jobbing design

Please send 200 word abstracts for 20-minute papers and brief biographical details (200 words) to womeninprint2018@gmail.com by 12-noon GMT, FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER 2017.

All papers are considered for publication in Printing History and Culture a new CPHC book series published by Peter Lang Ltd.

Download the call for papers here