Writing Itself

1 July 2014 - 2 July 2014


Online registration will open shortly.


Josh Robinson (Cardiff University)

John Regan (University of Cambridge) 

Catherine Pickstock (University of Cambridge)


In ‘When Things Strike Back’ Bruno Latour takes issue with the traditional narrative according to which the laboratory offers the most impartial conditions for the disinterested mastery of its objects of investigation, and tells in its place a story in which a laboratory creates the conditions in which objects are rendered ‘able to object to the utterances that we make about them’. This conference will bring together researchers with a range of disciplinary backgrounds (including literary studies, philosophy, theology, history, law) with research interests in writing of different kinds to reflect on the kinds of conditions that can allow or enable writing to make this kind of objection. How might we enable writing of different kinds to object, to demonstrate its agency, to take issue with the things that we say about it, with what it seems to say or what we want it to say? Questions that participants might like to address include:

  • What are the conditions of possibility of giving an account of the efficacy of writing?
  • What is the relationship between the materiality of writing and its particular intervention into the world?
  • How might we understand relationships between efficacious writing and efficacious speech? Is the efficacy of writing different from that of incantation or of performative utterances?
  • Are there gains or losses to thinking of any one mode of efficacious language as a model for another? And what are the consequences of these considerations for our own writing practices?
  • What are the effects of the bringing of writing into focus as a topic of study for our understanding of the relationship of writing to other kinds of epistemic activity?
  • What are the different kinds of conceptual work that can be carried out by the different concepts—among them rhetoric, poiesis, style, idiom, trope, figure, grammar, syntax, font, character, medium, form—with which we attempt to think about writing, and what might they neglect?
  • What do different ways of thinking about writing enable us to know, and how does this knowledge in turn inform our choices as to what and how we write?



Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) and the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University.

Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.

Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk