Another Voynich conference

There’s to be an online ‘Voynich conference’ – this time at the University of Malta.

Update – announced through the forum on March 7th., a contributor says hat they’ve received a message today that submissions are already closed.

It also appears, so the contributor tells me, that Fagin-Davis is not one of the organisers. Curiouser and curiouser.

Update: (11th March) – at the Voynich ninja forum, a moderator has now requested members to stop speaking with each other about these issues. The good news is that you may first submit an abstract.. if you can.

Update 2 – (March 11th.) In answer to a correspondent R. Lu – I don’t know whether there is to be a fee charged for registration, nor to whom any registration fee might go. Since it’s an online conference – no wine, biscuits, cheese or hall bookings, no postage and handling – I’d expect no registration fees, or very nominal ones. I suppose it’s possible that the people reading submissions might want a fee for their time, but as a rule those people are salaried; it’s quite a different thing from being paid by a publisher to review a manuscript submission. With discussion effectively censored at the forum now, while various people including you and others are meeting a blank wall when seeking information and access, I suppose you are to wait for publicly-announced instructions. And yes, I agree with you about “the atmosphere conveyed”.


Ray Clemens, curator at the Beinecke Library, with Lisa Fagan-Davis a noted medieval codicologist and Rene Zandergen, whose story for the manuscript’s history from c.1440AD-1912 was accepted for the Yale Facsimile edition, would appear to be the persons forming the Conference Committee, though it isn’t quite clear as yet. They are announced, at least as keynote speakers.

Whose initiative the proposed gathering is isn’t clear yet either – whether the University of Malta suggested it to Yale, or whether some student in the University of Malta suggested it to someone associated with the Voynich manuscript, or whether it was suggested by one of three appointed keynote speakers.

Lisa Fagin-Davis has said there are linguistics professors at the University of Malta and that “some post-graduate students (in linguistics?) have an interest in the Voynich manuscript.”

It appears, then, so far as the news is out that it wasn’t the initiative of Yale, nor of the Beinecke but that Clemens and Fagin-Davis have agreed to appear and perhaps(?) also form part or all of the Conference Committee with Zandbergen.

Although advertised as an International Conference, I must say it seems not to be organised in the way conferences hoping to attract international academic participation usually are.

As a rule, one receives a notice sent to the Department for circulation to appropriate members of staff, according to the announced theme and any sub-headings. Or an advertisement might appear in a well-known journal, and some individuals with a well-established record for original contributions to their field may be invited directly by the University or organisation proposing the event.

Despite this – at present – no-one can apply who doesn’t do so through a university email address. This is another unusual condition: as a rule you can respond in any way you choose, even by snail-mail if you’re very old-fashioned or off on your sabbatical.

The contrast gives me a vague feeling – no more than that – that this is being set up less as an international conference in usual sense, than the sort of gathering you see at thesis-presentation/awards/product-release. But no doubt time will clarify some of these vague areas.

Readers may not know, but Malta has a history of language-teaching which goes back to the time of the Crusades, though of course now it offers many other courses. Take a look at the variety on their website: everything from Engineering to Performing Arts, European Studies and Tourism, Aerospace Technologies and Baroque Studies. And, of course, Linguistics.

I might also mention that Lisa Fagin-Davis has told members of a Voynich forum that proposals “must include your evidence”.

To put that into any notice of an academic conference and call for papers would be considered offensive, because scholars of the sort likely to attend an international conference on a subject that touches on their area would never think of omitting the usual apparatus, while if their intended topic was a technical one (XRF scans of the Voynich pigments for example), or chemistry or statistics, then they too would routinely include their charts and neatly-presented flow-charts and diagrams.

All a bit odd, somehow, but this all seems to have happened pretty recently so no doubt it will take better shape in the next few weeks.

Postscript – Here’s a fairly standard call for papers of the kind that is also issued online.

Hit the ‘read more’ button to see the way topics are specified etc.

One thought on “Another Voynich conference

  1. re “you can respond” – I meant, of course the initial expression of interest. The next stage is usually to send off an abstract for a paper which is usually one tailored to the Conference’s stated aims, but resulting from one’s existing studies into some particular subject-field, or practical experience in it. If the abstract is thought appropriate (and the sender’s credentials too), then starts the business of actually making the paper – then to be submitted as a ‘full-text’ paper in which (of course) the usual apparatus is included. Hope that’s a bit clearer.
    Since a scholar’s reputation is affected, even if they are not, by where and to whom they deliver a paper it is usual for the organisation proposing the Conference to be very clear indeed about who is initiating the Conference and who makes up the Committee vetting proposals. Because a specialist *is* a specialist in a fairly small field, it is important to be sure that the people doing the vetting have the necessary competencies to do the evaluation and that the likely audience is one you’re willing to take the time from other duties and tasks to present with a paper at all. We go to conferences to listen, as much as to speak, so it’s important to most scholars that the list of key-note speakers include some who are actively working in a participant’s own area (such as codicology) and likely to have new and interesting insights they’re likely to share from their own – original- investigations.


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