The editorial team of Texto Livre invites scholars from across disciplines to contribute to its issue that interrogates the interplay, symbiosis and discords between the textual and the digital. The issue aims to centre on the premises that text is multidimensional and elastic as well as polyphonic and polymorphous by nature. Text is capable of speaking in many voices and tongues, which makes it interpretable and translatable in many, though limited, ways.

Text is inherently digital despite the centuries of the analogous forms of its dissemination and (re)production. By the end of the 19th c., Stéphane Mallarmé constructed the Book, the architecture of which would allow the reader to traverse a text in any way and at any point. Mallarmé’s ambition was to create something that would be even more omnipresent than any media of his time; something that would radicalize our reading experiences. What he built was not a book as understood at his time. Yet his vision was ahead of the words he could find to name his concept. The book construct very much resembles what we now know as hypertext whose digitality waited to be unlocked with the advent of the digital age.

The metaphor of the book and other material text containers, however, often blots out the transcending and pervasive essence of text. In the digital age, the ubiquitous presence of computers overshadows the ubiquity of text which has never ceased acting on, inspiring, performing and shaping human knowledge, existence and culture. As a medium, it is even more ubiquitous than the digital one. The concept of text has grown to be generous enough to include the material and the imaginary. We produce texts on the outside and the inside of ourselves. Texts emerge out of speaking, painting, performing, writing poems and creating algorithms or software. But all these practices also happen on the inside when what we perceive, imagine and dream of becomes of a meaningful substance to us.

We have come to understand that text is more than just a medium or a container. Text contains, expresses and transfers languages and all that the latter entail. To draw on Seymour Papert’s “object-to-think-with”, we may think and, by extension, experience with texts. But text is also organized and shaped by language that embodies our experiences, thoughts, personalities and the like. Hans-Georg Gadamer took us as far as to acknowledge and accept that we are in the world by being in language. Weaving, constructing, writing, speaking, painting or otherwise producing a text takes us to a kind of interface or a shared boundary between our minds and whatever it is we perceive as reality. Our minds also connect through that interface. When Rainer Maria Rilke ran out of words, he turned to translating the poetry of Louise Labé, the enigmatic French poetess of the 16th c. Rilke reinvented himself as a poet through his intimate conversation across the time. If we take Gadamer’s idea even further to entertain the idea that we are in the world by being in translation, text becomes the world in the endless making.

The agency of text is close to that of living organisms. It is capable of invading our minds and rewriting the DNA of cultures. Due to its qualities of being translatable and possible to be transmediated, our ideas travel wide and far regardless of the boundaries that we imagine or experience on our way. The textual ability to transcend and circumvent those boundaries by translation, allusion or metaphor is in particular existentially vital in the contexts tightly controlled by political or economic censorship and various ideologies.

Yet the practice of translation comes with a bag of problems such as untranslatability. The near impossibility of making interdisciplinary research is akin to the issue of linguistic untranslatability. Something is lost and something is always gained in our search for answers across disciplines. Hence phenomenological reflections on the challenges of researching text or using text in research across disciplines are in particular welcome in this issue. We also encourage contributors to explore various aspects of how what we learn about text can help us interrogate our condition of living, making knowledge and creating in the digital world. And in return, we ask how the condition and state of digitality shapes and advances the ways we envisage and use texts. How is text instrumental in influencing human minds and cultures? And how is this instrumentality mimicked and transformed by the digital context? How does textuality translate into digitality? And the other way round, how does the digital become a narrative force and even an entity? How does the rhetoric of text frames digital transmediation; and what forms of textuality, rhetoric and semiotic ontologies emerge through digital transmediation?

How does text evolve and transform through the new partnership and confrontation between humans and machines? What do digital interrogations of text tell us about the materiality of text? What does make up the materiality of the textual and the digital? How do digital technologies shape text? And yet how does it challenge those technologies in return? How can textual scholarship in its broadest sense explain human mind, condition and knowledge production? How making and working within other disciplines informs our theories and research in textual scholarship?

Text production and consumption are inherently interdisciplinary though they have not been necessarily studied as such by many and established disciplines of textual scholarship. Some rigid conventions have persisted in mainstream textual theories. The vibrant field of the Digital Humanities has challenged some of the monotheistic perspectives and over-institutionalized views of text. But there is much more to ponder and unlock yet. Hence here we are raising broad questions as to what textual scholarship has made with the freedom of traversing digital texts in an unhindered manner; are we daring enough to advance even further into the waters of digital textual scholarship; what promise is there for the emergence of Digital Semiotics? The DH is yet to connect to and absorb innovative thinking and theory making that happened and is happening outside its claimed territories. Whether produced within or outside the DH, the current issue is open to interdisciplinary research that places both the textual and the digital in one frame. Both theoretical inquiries dealing with, but not limited to, the issues above and empirical studies that dwell on building things, such as distant reading, literary networks and the like, are welcome.


Important Dates

Contributors to the issue are invited to send a short 200-300 word proposal to Dr Gabriele Salciute Civiliene at and Dr. Vanda Sousa at by 1st October 2018.

Proposals should follow the guidelines of submission as detailed at

Selected contributors will be invited to submit their full article for peer review by 31st December 2018, with a prospective of being published in the first issue of the journal in Jan-Apr 2019.

Contributions in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French will be accepted.



Gabriele Salciute Civiliene (King's College London)

Vanda Sousa (Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, CISC-NOVA of FCSH of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa)