Thursday, May 10, 2012

Report from Eastern International Region SCRIPT Conference

This is the second year that SCRIPT has held a meeting concurrently with the Eastern International Regional meeting of the AAR. Last year we met at Syracuse University.  This year's meeting was held at Waterloo University, outside Toronto.

We had a slightly smaller footprint at this year's conference.  Instead of several sessions, we had one.  Despite the small size, however, it was well-attended, and the conversation was quite lively.

The following presentations were part of the session:
  • David Dault, Christian Brothers University: "On a Controlled Bibliographic Vocabulary for SCRIPT and its Related Organizations: A Response to Deirdre Stam"
  • James W. Watts, Syracuse University: "Relic Books"
  • Karl Ivan Solibakke, Syracuse University: "Identity, Mimesis and Script: Walter Benjamin's Mimetic Function Revisited"
I will reproduce my paper in a separate post.

Jim Watts's paper builds on the thesis he first put forth in his earlier paper, “The Three Dimensions of Scriptures.”  In his discussion, Watts argues that a "Relic" text can be understood as a text where the iconic dimension has been hyper-emphasized, and the other two dimensions (the semantic and performative dimensions) have been largely or wholly eclipsed.  He had a good supply of examples, from the Declaration of Independence on display in Washington, D.C. to several kinds of Bibles that are designed to be seen, but not read.

Karl Solibakke's paper attempted to bring the questions of Iconic Books into conversation with Walter Benjamin's corpus, particularly around the Benjaminian concept of the "script."  According the the website of the International Walter Benjamin Society, "The term 'Script' (Schrift) emerges in the 1920’s as the center around which Benjamin’s meditations on the relationship between writing and image crystallize," and refers specifically to the act of writing as a graphic event, and not merely a textual one.  Solibakke's paper added a rich dimension to the discussion that followed the three papers.

Despite our only having one session this year, we managed to attract a number of interested persons to the session, with some even pledging to join SCRIPT as a result.  After the session, the participants and many of the attendees departed to the evening reception where, despite a loud jazz band, good conversation and conviviality lasted well into the night.