At the Crossroads of Modernity: Newspapers as Miscellany from the 1880s

Date / time: 20 January, 12:00 am

Call for Papers, deadline – 20 January 2023

Centre for the Study of Journalism and History, University of Sheffield, 19 May 2023

What do newspapers tell us about the times they were printed in and read? Most research into newspapers concentrates on them as purveyors of news or as contributors to political debate. This underestimates the rich, untapped potential of what has always characterised newspapers, namely their miscellany. Newspapers, in content and presentation, have always incorporated a mixture of styles and topics. In fact, it is this very miscellany that has driven interest from willing purchasers and added attractiveness to advertisers, certain of a mixed readership of taste. Concentrating on the more ephemeral aspects of newspapers as opposed to the coverage of high politics may tell us more about their attractiveness as a media form.

This miscellany grew to its full potential in the popular press, broadly defined, from the 1880s. Technological innovation adopted within journalism’s existing practices enabled the development of a rich variety of formats all dedicated to increasing market share by attracting wider readerships across social class and gendered boundaries. This was manifested in, not exhaustively, the incorporation of photos, cartoons, new layout templates, sport, cross-exploitation of films, fiction, television and celebrity, gossip and readers’ letters. This symposium encourages contributions to this exploration of newspapers across a long twentieth century as a meeting point and melting pot of inter-media influences, extending the potential of newspapers as a conduit to new approaches to the study of popular culture and history.

We invite proposals, of max 400 words, for 20-minute papers, to be sent to by Friday 20 January. We are not prescriptive in terms of national contexts and we encourage both international and transnational explorations.

Image: Wiki Commons