The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0349  Thursday, 15 December 2011


From:         Lowell Duckert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, 15 Dec 2011 11:17:16 -0500

Subject:      [SEMA] Exemplaria Symposium—Please Forward


Dear Colleague:


I am writing to request your assistance in publicizing the Exemplaria Symposium, Surface, Symptom, and the State of Critique, which is to be held at the AT&T Center on the University of Texas campus from 9-12 February 2012. 


You will find information about the symposium below. Could I please ask that you forward this message to your colleagues, especially those with a research and/or teaching interest in the medieval and early modern periods? 


Those who wish to attend the symposium are cordially invited to do so.  The events will also be webcast through a live feed accessible at www.utexas.edu/cola/depts/english.


My co-editors and I greatly appreciate any efforts you are able to make to publicize the symposium.


Best wishes,

Noah Guynn, Editor

Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval & Renaissance Studies




What is “surface reading”? How have we been called to attend textual surfaces, and what are the implications of such a call in our current intellectual climate?  More specifically, how does such a call to the surface affect medieval and early modern studies, subfields that have had vexed relations to critical theory and teeter at the edge of “relevance” and usefulness? 


From 9-12 February 2012, Exemplaria and the University of Texas will convene 25 prominent scholars of medieval and renaissance studies to explore these questions.  The recent recommendations of “surface reading” as a preferred protocol for scholarship make this work especially urgent. This is in part because such recommendations caution variously “against,” “beyond,” or “after” the very interpretive tools that prompted the founding of Exemplaria in the first place, that is, textual analyses informed by the hermeneutics of suspicion associated with Marxist, Psychoanalytic, and Deconstructive theories.


A recent issue of Representations (Fall 2009), for example, looks toward a straightforward theory of textuality and culture engaged with what the text says rather than what it avoids, hides, ignores, or misrepresents. How is such a call to surface reading—a resistantly literal understanding of texts that begs the very questions of depth it seeks to dismantle—to be understood at the present moment, in the wake of increasingly instrumentalist notions of the future of academic work and the University? And what, after all, are the implications of “surface” readings for the specificity of early texts and traditions? Will eschewing symptomatic readings return us to the simplistic and uncomplicated narratives of the past that scholars have worked hard to complicate or dismantle? And given that surface reading has been tied, through the notion of “distance reading,” to quantitative models of scholarship fueled by the recent digitizations of Google books—how does digitization itself engage with the early printed book? Data-mining character recognition (OCR) software available through Google books technologies cannot yet accommodate Blackletter printing, thus threatening to leave out all of the Middle Ages and much of the Renaissance from its data sets. What are the implications of this “new” digitized, “fully-searchable” archive for our understandings of the long tradition of “literary,” “artistic,” “religious,” or “textual” culture?  


These the questions, concerns and issues the Exemplaria symposium, Surface, Symptom, & the State of Critique will address.



The cost of registration for the Exemplaria Symposium is $190.  This fee includes all events at the AT&T Center on the University of Texas campus: the opening reception on Thursday afternoon, full-day conference participation on Friday and Saturday, and the closing plenary on Sunday morning.  Friday and Saturday’s events will begin with breakfast and include a buffet lunch, as well as a morning and afternoon coffee service between sessions. 


Registration requests must be made by January 25.  Checks can be made payable to the UT Department of English.  Please note “Exemplaria Symposium” on the check’s memo.  All requests for registration and any questions can be addressed to Elizabeth Scala, Dept of English B5000, 1 University Station, University of Texas, Austin, 78712.  She may also be reached by email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


For anyone from out of town wishing to stay at the AT&T Center during the symposium, arrangements can be made directly with the AT&T Center (1-877-744-8822), where a number of rooms have been reserved.  Please mention the name of the symposium, “Surface, Symptom & the State of Critique,” to get the special rate. 


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