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Collegium 2017: TexTexTileTexTure

Like texts, textiles function as a medium for the transmission of concepts, metaphors, and cultural constructs. This Collegium brings together a small group of internationally renowned scholars to explore through intense discussion the deep connection between text and textile technologies.

Textiles and their production provide a wealth of metaphors for literary and artistic production. In English we might “spin a yarn” or “weave a web of intrigue”. The words “text” and “textile” are etymologically related, sharing the Latin root “textus”, meaning woven fabric, cloth, structure, and framework. Similarly text and textile substrates are inherently related. The English term for velvet (Italian velluto or the French velours) is etymologically related to Latin vellum, and emphasizes the fur- or hair-like quality of the textile. Such metaphors and etymological networks that link texts and textiles exist across time and languages. And this bears testimony to a strong and deep cultural affiliation between texts and textiles.

Core questions upon which we might focus are: How are we to make sense of this relationship between texts and textiles? What role do substrates play in the way we understand texts and textiles? What new interpretive possibilities open up when we view cultural artifacts through the nexus of texts and textiles?