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International Workshop: Punctuation in Practice

Punctuation in Practice
Punctuation in Practice

This international workshop, “Punctuation in Practice,” investigated how punctuation—as a way to organize syntax and mark pauses on the page—changes throughout literary history. The workshop saught to explore a range of punctuation practices (or lack thereof ) from medieval manuscripts through printed drama and poetry to the novel and contemporary literature having brought together experts from a range of genres and time periods.

This workshop took as its starting point Adorno’s statement about the historicity of punctuation (“History has left its residue in punctuation marks, and it is history, far more than meaning or grammatical function, that looks out at us, rigidified and trembling slightly, from every mark of punctuation”). With a focus on historical conventions and change, this workshop explored how punctuation organizes the basic structures underpinning our expectations about literary style, conventions, and genres.

The workshop placed a seemingly invisible practice—punctuation—at the forefront of a range of methodological questions in literary studies, including genre theory, conventional expectations, language standardization, editorial theory, textual theory, notions of authorial intention and interpretation, and the act of reading.

Please find the detailed program here.

Elizabeth Bonapfel (Fellow of the Volkwagen Stiftung and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)

In cooperation with: