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CFP: Printers Unite! Print and Protest from the Early Modern to the Present

Submission deadline: March 25, 2016

Conference date(s):
November 3, 2016 - November 4, 2016

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Conference Venue:

Centre for Printing History and Culture
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Abstracts of no longer than 250 words should be submitted along with a brief biography to Dr Chris Hill ( and Dr Matthew Day ( by 25 March, 2016.  Invitees will be allocated 20 minutes in which to present their papers.

‘Printers Unite!’is a phrase that evokes the historic solidarities and struggles of printers and their eventual consolidation into a single trade union, Unite.  On the 90th and 30th anniversaries of the General Strike and the Wapping Dispute, this two-day conference at the Marx Memorial Library will explore the role of printers and print as agents and vehicles of protest.  The General Strike, which was triggered by an unofficial strike by printers at the Daily Mail, and the Wapping Dispute, in which 6000 printers were sacked by News International, represent only one of the themes that emerges out of an examination of 'print and protest': that of the labour history of printing.  This conference will also engage with 'print and protest' in so far as it applies to early modern as well as modern contexts, pre-industrial as well as industrial perspectives and radical as well as labour histories.  The phrase ‘Printers Unite’, then, can also be interpreted as a call for researchers of ‘print and protest’to unite over historical periods and methodological boundaries, making it possible to establish broader patterns and trends over time.

The conference organisers are especially interested in instances when printers have utilised their craft and labour power to protest against or in favour of economic, political, religious and social changes.  These will no doubt differ in historical backdrop and content, but a focus on print as a medium — and printers as workers — will allow us to draw out common styles, techniques, practices and struggles.  Such an approach should also allow us to develop valuable connections between labour history, printing history and cultural and social history.  The subject of print and protest can be explored from a number of angles, including through the printed product, individual printers, printing chapels and trade unions and print networks.  Abstracts are invited for papers that address or touch upon the following themes in particular:

Print and polemic / print and propaganda

Protest and the printing trade, including the Stationers' Company and print unions

Censorship / copyright / the struggle for a free press / control of print and ‘underground’printing

Protest and objects of print, including texts, images and cartoons

Print, protest and uses of (or resistance to) technology

Women, print and protest

Ethnic minorities, print and protest

Local, national and inter / transnational networks of print and protest

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Professor Andrew Pettegree (University of St Andrews), author of The Invention of News and Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion.

The conference is sponsored by Birmingham City University, Marx Memorial Library, Newman University, The Centre for Printing History and Culture and the University of Birmingham.

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