English Language Notes

Due Date: 06-01-2024

This special issue of English Language Notes invites interdisciplinary perspectives on the poetic and metaphorical possibilities of compilation, a word both ubiquitous and lacking a single, agreed-upon meaning. From the Latin compilatio (“a raking together, pillaging, plundering; hence, concr., sportively of a collection of documents, a compilation”), it can describe poetic composition, physical construction, and the artful orchestration of those domains by means of page layout, indexing, and comparable readerly aids. Both action and result, compilation figures an object in terms at once material and literary.

As the turn in Lewis and Short’s definition above suggests, metaphor inheres in compilation: the palimpsest, the dig site, the mixtape, the kaleidoscope, the cartograph, and the family tree are but a few analogues that scholars of the book have used to describe what compilations are like. What then are the poetics of compilation? How can compiling a text, a book, or an archive make and unmake meaning? We invite textually or materially grounded attempts to think through such questions from scholars working across disciplines and cultures.

As medievalists we aim to cast a wide net in terms of period, place, language, dialect, genre, repository, and archive to compile fresh perspectives on materiality and textuality within the broad remit of book history. Medievalists know well the exclusionary force of normative practice, so we envision this special issue as a forum for descriptive language that may be strange or even inimical to the tropes of book-historical description most familiar for Eurocentric study.

Please send 300-word abstracts for short (4,000–6,000-word) essays to by 1 June 2024. Solicited essays will be due on 10 January 2025 and will receive double-anonymous peer review, undertaken by the journal. Publication is slated for spring 2026 (vol. 64, no. 1). The full call for papers can be viewed in Google Drive.