Maybe not that original but interesting anyway, especially for the comparative approach.
The Great War in the illustrated press
Call for Paper
A symposium organized by the OPIIM, LabSIC, MSH-Paris Nord, and University of Paris-XIII,
June 5th, 6th, 7th 2013.
The year 2014 will commemorate the anniversary of the beginning of the Great War. This will be an opportunity to review our most recent knowledge about this event. One could assume, considering the amount of books published on the matter, that everything has already been said during the last twenty years concerning the cultural history of the Great War, leaving but few uncharted areas. However, as far as the iconography is concerned, there are only a few studies that have contributed to such historiographic developments, if we except those published by Laurent Véray on animated images, from news bulletins (1993) to fiction movies (2011). In the case of illustrated press, this fact is particularly striking. Although this field has benefited from more recent approaches (Beurier, 2007), it still lacks a broader, European point of view (Tomassini, 2007). It also lead to very few comparative works as it has been the case for the 1870 war (Martin, 2006). Yet, the illustrated magazines conveyed images of the war that were shared by European societies both during and after the conflict. This symposium aims at seizing the opportunity of this anniversary to shed new light on the European and American illustrated press, including its function and its influence on the cultural representations of the nations before, during and after the war.
A research following various lines:
*Before the war started, we need to look at the visual culture of the pre-war societies. What about the “in-war images”? Is the public used to violence, to what extent and under which visual format? What is the kind of information and images that make you sell more out of one event? To what extent the coverage of preceding wars (1870-1871, Balkans, colonial events) did introduce certain visual habits that reappeared between 1914 and 1918? Besides, magazines enable us to investigate the mental preparation to war. In the case of France, unlike what was long thought, there was no will for revenge. However, to what extent the veneration of the army that dominated illustrated press in the years 1910 can be understood as a psychological preparation? Was it also the case in other European countries?
*Concerning the time span of the Great War, an account is needed on the articles and documents written by the illustrated press on the event. What are the most favourite themes in the various European countries? How do the words and images convey the violence of combats or occupation? How can they be analyzed in terms of gender? How are the colonial soldiers viewed? How important is the part played by the aesthetics of war in photography? What lines can be drawn in terms of chronology? It is also important to understand the links between the illustrated press and the war in the context of a history of the medium. To what extent did the Great War stimulate editorial changes, modifying the magazine’s conception, reversing the common hierarchy between photography and paintings, or creating new practices in journalism (as it has been the case in France)?
*A third period ought to ponder upon the legacy of the war. What is the impact of the latter in the illustrated press of the years 1920, both in Europe and the United States? From a national point of view, what are the contents and representation of the Great War in the magazines that were issued afterwards? Did photography play an important part in the reintegration of soldiers? What representation of the conflict or Nation does it convey? Is there a possibility left to forget about the war, or deny it; or on the contrary, is violence voluntarily shown? Here, the circulation of images is worth a specific study: did the numerous journalistic (Témoignage, 1931) or editorial (Krieg dem Kriege, 1924) publications have an influence on post-war illustrated magazines? How do images circulate? From and up to where? Through which pattern or changes? Between which countries? Similarly, up to what point the iconographic legacy of the Great War is used without change in the following conflicts (Rif war, civil war in Russia)? How far can it be traced as we close in on World War Two?
Eventually, from the point of view of media history, there subsists an uncharted area concerning the legacy of the Great War in terms of press professional practices. More precisely, it can be wondered why photojournalism had disappeared in France until the end of the 1920s and the issue of the Vu magazine in 1928 by Lucien Vogel. Similar observations can be made in other countries. What happened in the meantime? What became of the magazines that relied on pictures in the war time? How did they evolve to meet their readers’ needs? Did they learn from their war experience in terms of professional and editorial practices? How did famous post war photographers like André Kertesz use their experience of the Great War in their work? Last but not least, it can be asked whether there exists a possible link between information such as delivered by the Great War magazines and journalism today (such as the importance of amateur photographers, or pictures bringing back images of the Great War)?
Contributions on Eastern Europe and/or North America will be particularly welcome.
The articles selected by the scientific committee (30 000 signs) will be published in 2014.