Early Text Cultures

Early Text Cultures is a multi-disciplinary project that engages with the shared formal, thematic, and sociocultural features of texts across ancient and pre-modern cultures worldwide. The project is intended to facilitate innovative research into these text cultures by enabling students to meet and exchange ideas beyond the conventional discourses of particular fields.

Similar patterns of text use and development can be traced across different cultures. These patterns define the range and functions of texts, and the composition of their audiences. Parallels between individual text cultures remain understudied, while existing cross-cultural scholarship neglects important geographic regions, such as Southeast Asia, that can enrich understanding. In addition, the proliferation of critical approaches over the 20th and 21st centuries has provided opportunities for sharing and synthesizing material from different contexts in new ways.

The project normally organises three events per academic term: a seminar series, a conference, and a workshop. The seminars typically pair researchers from different backgrounds, examining a topic from a comparative perspective. The conference is the capstone of the series, inviting distinguished scholars to contribute their expertise on a topic of common interest. Finally, the workshop explores issues of methodology and theory in the study of early text cultures.

The project is run by graduate students and early-career researchers from Oxford and beyond, and is open to anyone interested in cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary discussion of early texts. We maintain a regularly updated list of past events, and anyone is welcome to suggest a new text type for discussion.