Signs of Writing: The Cultural, Social, and Linguistic Contexts of the World’s First Writing Systems

Monday through Wednesday, July 25–27, 2016
at the University of Chicago, Center in Paris, 6 rue Thomas Mann, Paris 13ème

Broadly speaking, this conference will examine the complex relationships between writing, society, and literature. More specifically, it will explore various aspects of scribal transmission and education, the development of literacy, the rise of literature from earlier genres and the extension of incipient writing systems to serve this purpose, the materiality and archaeological contexts of writing, and/or the relationship between writing and the non-linguistic symbolic systems that preceded it. In short, we are looking more to investigate the context and process of the invention of writing in general than to focus on particular issues in any single writing system.

Participants will include: John Baines (Oxford University); Wolfgang Behr (Univeristy of Zurich); Françoise Bottéro (CNRS Paris); Stephen Chrisomalis (Wayne State University); Jerry Cooper (Johns Hopkins University); Sylvie Donnat Beauquier (Université de Strasbourg); Jean-Jacques Glassner (CNRS Paris); Amalia Gnanadesikan (University of Maryland); Michaël Guichard (École Pratique des Hautes Études); Wouter Henkelman (École Pratique des Hautes Études); Stephen Houston (Brown University); David Lurie (Columbia University); Massimo Maiocchi (University of Chicago); Chrystelle Maréchal (CNRS/EHESS - CRLAO); Simon Martin (University of Pennsylvania); Dimitri Meeks (CNRS - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier III); Piotr Michalowski (University of Michigan); Joel Palka (University of Illinois-Chicago); Annick Payne (University of Basel); Christine Proust (CNRS - Université Paris Diderot); Claude Rilly (CNRS/Inalco - Lacan); Gonzalo Rubio (Pennsylvania State University); David Share (Haifa University); Ed Shaughnessy (University of Chicago); Richard Sproat (Google Labs); Andréas Stauder (École Pratique des Hautes Études); Matt Stolper (University of Chicago); Anna Stryjewska (University of Zurich); Olivier Venture (École Pratique des Hautes Études); Pascal Vernus (École Pratique des Hautes Études); Haicheng Wang (University of Washington); Gordon Whittaker (University of Göttingen); Maryanne Wolf (Tufts University); Christopher Woods (University of Chicago); Marc Zender (Tulane University); and Ilona Zsolnay (University of Pennsylvania)