From Runes to the New Media and Digital Books

30-31 May 2019, Iasi - Romania

Runes webOral tradition or oral lore is a form of communication wherein the set of knowledge, art, and ideas which define a given culture is received, preserved and transmitted orally from one generation to the next. Once recorded in writing, a culture becomes visible, its values are expressed clearly, and those records will endure. It is not only visibility and recorded expression that it gains but also vitality and a virtually universal dimension.

We invite participants in the conference From Runes to the New Media and Digital Books to look at how writing in English shaped a language which has become the world’s most used, the lingua franca of our contemporary world. From the earliest indigenous writing found in England, written on the ankle bone of a roe deer, from the Undley bracteate (a gold medalion), which is the earliest example of Old English found so far, from the dramatic increase in the amount of writing in the Middle English period, through the advent of printing to the development of the World Wide Web and the Internet, the history of the English language is the story of its written texts. As Dominic Wyse argues in How Writing Works: From the Invention of the Alphabet to the Rise of Social Media, "New forms of social media still rely heavily on the alphabetic language of English. And new developments such as emoticons and images have been reunited with written language perhaps as an echo of the hieroglyphic past. At the same time the global spread of language, and particularly the English language, as a result of the internet, including in juxtaposition with still and moving images, music and sound, is on a quite extraordinary scale. The extent to which English establishes itself as a digital lingua franca remains an open question” (88).

From Beowulf and the illuminated manuscripts to the rich diversity of British, American, Canadian, Australian (diasporic) literatures, to which myriads of translations and adaptations could also be added, creative writing in English is a “movable feast” transgressing the borders of one language and one culture, and (re-)shaping the English language as much as it is (re-) shaped by it. Before being postcolonial, literature in English was colonial, and before it was colonial it heavily relied on translations... 

In addition to the phenomena of exile, migration and diaspora, which have blurred the borders of languages and cultures, the literatures in English written in the last twenty years or so have been heavily influenced by the media. More and more authors today write e-literature and produce media art, in which image and text are juxtaposed. Illustrated literary works are not a novelty if one thinks of William Blake’s or Edward Lear’s illustrated poems. What the new media does is to turn this juxtaposition of image and text into a new art worth looking into and exploring.

We invite contributions on the following topics:

Letters in their many senses
Linguistic theories: classical, modern and contemporary
Literary Theory and Criticism
Literary ages, trends and movements, and their aesthetics
Translation as a linguistic and/or socio-cultural enterprise, translation in the digital era
Cultural and intercultural studies
Intersections and juxtapositions of letter/word/text/image from illuminated manuscripts to the old and new media
TEFL – challenges in the new media age


Participants are invited to send 250-300-word abstracts and a brief bio-biblio note to the following address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For further details, please check the conference website:
We look forward to meeting you in Iaşi,
The Organizing Committee


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