Call for papers: The Kelmscott Press and Its Legacies

A one-day symposium hosted by The William Morris Society

6 November 2021

Keynote speakers: Dr Marcus Waithe (University of Cambridge), ‘Pocket Cathedrals: Craftsmanship, Architecture, and the Kelmscott Press’; Yoshiko Yamamoto (Arts & Crafts Press, Tacoma)

In 2021 The William Morris Society will be celebrating 125 years since the publication of the Kelmscott Chaucer, the crowning glory of Morris’s book printing venture, the Kelmscott Press.

The Kelmscott Press was Morris’s last great artistic undertaking. With the support and expertise of his friend and collaborator Emery Walker, Morris established a book printing operation near his home on the River Thames in Hammersmith. Morris’s respect for traditional craftsmanship, his search for perfection in design and his love of literature all came together in the works of the Kelmscott Press. The Press’s most ambitious endeavour was the Kelmscott Chaucer. Described by Edward Burne-Jones as ‘like a pocket cathedral’, and published just months before Morris’s death, it embodies Morris’s highest design ideals.

Throughout 2021 we will explore the processes, products and legacy of the Kelmsott Press through a range of events, including a one-day symposium on the Kelmscott Press and its legacies.

The William Morris Society invites proposals for twenty-minute papers that address any aspect of the Press’s activities, its history or its legacies. Papers may consider, but are not limited to, some of the following topics:

– The significance of the Kelmscott Press for the study of material texts, book history and printing

– The influence of the Press on twentieth-century print cultures and the ‘visible language of modernism’ (McGann)

– The people of the Press (the compositors, pressmen, paper-makers and others whose work made the Press possible)

– Hand-press printing as a form of craft production

– The relationship between the Press and Morris’s other areas of cultural production

– The relationship between Morris’s materialist aesthetic and his politics

– Digital re-mediations of the Press’s books and/or the relevance of print in a digital age

– Morris as book collector

Deadline for proposals: 31 May 2021

Send proposals to: journal@williammorrissociety.org.uk

It is to be hoped that the symposium will take place at a venue in central London in early November 2021, though the symposium may take place online if circumstances require it. 

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