Reflections on the City of Print Seminar and Possible Next Steps/Projects

Below are some final thoughts I had from before the last day of the City of Print program (Fellow Seminar Participants: This is the same list I e-mailed to the group on June 25, 2015).  I look forward to continuing the conversation and collaborating further. Happy continued summer!

Here are some thoughts on how the Institute shaped my understanding of periodical studies (Note that I come from a media studies/journalism background):

  • Periodical studies matters and we need to use our ammunition to make it stand out more in our respective fields, especially as “new” media “take over.”  It would be helpful to explore what a periodical is today and how that relates to what was seen in the past.  We need to use digital tools creatively (as we’ve seen in various ways in the Institute) to animate interest in periodicals among our colleagues, students, and the general public.
  • Many disciplines study periodicals, but more is needed to bridge our various fields and literatures (e.g. English, art history, communication, media/mass communication studies, etc.), which will allow us to cross-pollinate and open up our research and teaching (like we’ve started to do with the Institute).  Also, we should ask ourselves who and what perspectives might be missing from periodical studies (network theory comes to mind as we have seen many questions over the last two weeks about NYC periodicals’ connections within and beyond the city).
  • “Modern” and “modernity” are highly contested terms, and I have enjoyed exploring their complex plurality. Moving forward, I will press my students and myself to push the limits of this term.  Additionally, I will continue to ask questions about whom and what is served in modernity’s various manifestations.  In thinking about the debates about modernity, I am reminded of insights about what (and for whom) is considered “modern,” as seen in Edward Said’s Orientalism, Maria Todorova’s Balkanism, and Dipesh Chakrabarty’sProvincializing Europe.
  • Space and place are essential to understanding how and why periodicals developed the ways they did.  We need to capture periodicals’ stories of space and place more (as we’ve been doing in our various wonderful tours). We can use the classroom to make this happen, too, by having students uncover “micro” periodical histories and geographies, which might link to larger networks that can be discovered through our continued collaboration after the Institute.
    • My transnational work on periodicals in and between France and the United States will now take a more spatial/geographic orientation beyond my core concerns in studying periodicals: context, representational work, production, audience reception/response, regulation, and my positionality as a researcher.  As a side note, here, I’m mainly referring to Paul du Gay’s “circuit of culture” model, as depicted in the following images:

Inline image 1

Image from Paul du Gay, ed., Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of The Sony Walkman (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013).

Inline image 2

From the Institute, here are some possible projects that come to mind that we might pursue to help our teaching and research:

  • An online bibliographic database or chart with links to various digital archives of periodicals across time periods and genres (let’s pool our resources!).
  • An online bibliographic database or chart with details about where to find original periodicals in extensive collections (Do you want to know about post-WWII French and American magazine holdings in the US and France? Give me a call!).
  • Creation of an H-Net listserv group dedicated to periodicals (if there is one already, I want to join!).
  • The periodicals timeline sounds amazing, especially with our collective knowledge and resources.  Maybe we could also develop interactive maps/timelines?

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