2023 Conference

Design and Text

1-3 June 2023, The New School, New York NY

Textile alphabet by Tom Magliery CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Texts are designed: composed, edited, produced, and reproduced with intentionality. Design is also a sensory feature of texts which, through visual features or soundscapes, for example, can filter, supplement, or supplant verbal meaning. Textual design thus functions both as conceptual orientation and as material encounter—that which shapes the reader’s experience, consciously or not, through interactions on or in the page, screen, or space. 

The theme of the 2023 conference of the Society for Textual Scholarship, “Design and Text,” will focus on texts as designed objects, with attention to the multiple registers of “design.” How does textual materiality affect the scope of possible interpretations? How has design functioned to identify, embrace, or activate–through exclusion and/or inclusion–particular readerships? How do texts and editions operate within certain designed spaces–and how are spaces designed around certain texts and editions? How are race, gender, class, ability, and sexual identity coded into textual design? 

This in-person conference, hosted by The New School, NYC, welcomes new participants and encourages disciplinary exploration. 

Deadline for proposals: February 6, 2023

Possible topics include…

Perceiving texts

  • the visuality of print and print culture
  • soundscapes and aural perception
  • tactile texts
  • digital textual design
  • graphic design and authorial identity
  • typography, lay-out, interface
  • visualizations and illustrations

Creative positionalities

  • race and the (in)visibility of texts
  • Black textual design
  • Indigenous textual design
  • Latinx textual design
  • Asian/hyphenated Asian textual design
  • queer/trans textual design
  • feminine/feminist design
  • design of braille books and other adaptive textual technologies
  • bibliography for public access

Producing, editing, and designing texts

  • editorial design and/or the design of editions
  • design and manuscripts, ephemera, periodicals
  • history of publishing and visual technologies as histories of design
  • the layout of text and paratext

Textual and archival spaces

  • the design of archival space and the social design of the archive
  • designing exclusionary/inclusive archives
  • designing public spaces for texts and texts for public space
  • climate crisis and text and archive design

In addition to proposals related to the conference theme, STS welcomes proposals on other aspects of textual scholarship. STS is an interdisciplinary organization, and we have a tradition of offering papers from diverse disciplines, including literature, history, musicology, classical and biblical studies, theology, philosophy, art history, legal history, the history of science and technology, computer science, library and information science, lexicography, epigraphy, paleography, codicology, cinema studies, new media studies, game studies, theater and performance studies, linguistics, gender and sexuality studies, race and ethnicity studies, indigenous studies, and textual and literary theory. We share an interest in the recovery and analysis of the material traces of the textual past broadly defined, and the creation of a community of interpreters sharing knowledge and methods to that end.

As an organization, STS is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Session Formats


Panels may consist of three associated paper presentations of approximately 15 minutes each or four shorter presentations. Note: Individual paper proposals submitted will be organized thematically into groups by the conference program committee. Pre-organized panels are welcome.


Pre-organized roundtables should include four to six speakers who collectively address topics of broad interest and scope, with the goal of fostering lively debate with audience participation. 

Discussion Seminars

Discussion seminars are focused on a specific topic, issue, or text. Participants share work in advance, although others are welcome to join the seminar and contribute to the discussion.  Accepted seminar proposals will be announced on the conference website by April 1. In your seminar proposal, please provide a description of the topic or issue and the range of current research that will be discussed.

Flash Video Essays & Exhibits

The flash video essay is a one- to five-minute video that presents an argument or explores a point of view. It might consist of a tour of a specific textual space, an interview, a sequence of archival materials, or original text-based art. In your proposal, please provide a short description of your video essay and several topics germane to your contribution (see list of possible topics above; other topics welcome).

Exhibits are five-minute presentations in any format: for example, lightning talks, virtual poster presentations, audio narratives, or videos. In your proposal, please provide a description of your presentation along with a list of possible topics (see list of possible topics above; other topics welcome).


Workshops should propose a specific problem, tool, or skill set for which the workshop leader will provide expert guidance and instruction. Examples might be an introduction to forensic computing or paleography. Workshop proposals that are accepted will be announced on the conference website and attendees will be required to enroll with the workshop leader(s).

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should include:

  1. Name(s) and affiliation(s)
  2. Email address
  3. Title of submission
  4. Format type: panel, roundtable, discussion seminar, flash video essay or exhibit, workshop
  5. 250-word proposal abstract
  6. List of specific topics (from the suggested topics listed in this CFP, and others) to which the submission may relate
  7. Technology needs


  • All proposals due: February 6, 2023
  • Notification: March 15, 2023
  • Seminar topics will be posted by: April 1, 2023
  • Registration opens: April, exact date TBD

Please send inquiries and proposals to: societyfortextualscholarship@gmail.com


New York City has many libraries and archives of interest to STS conference attendees; no list can do justice to what is available across all five boroughs. Here, we list just a few samples, albeit Manhattan-centric and exclusive of university and museum libraries and archives.

  • National Archives at New York City (One Bowling Green)
  • The LGBT Community Center National History Archive (131th Street and 7th Avenue)
  • The Public Design Commission Archives (City Hall Park)
  • The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of The New York Public Library (42nd Street and Fifth Avenue)
  • The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (135th Street and Malcolm X Blvd)
  • The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (40 Lincoln Center Plaza)
  • The Morgan Library (37th Street and Madison Avenue)
  • The Grolier Club (60th and Park Avenue)
  • Conde Nast Archive (1 World Trade Center)
  • Archive of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Centro Library (119th Street and Third Avenue)
  • Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue)