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Appel à communications, colloque "Mediasphere, Culture, Soft Power"

Date limite : 31 octobre 2013

Since Daniel Defoe, the press has been a major and very public agent in the invention and celebration of Englishness. In the process, it has also constructed a self-image mirroring the ideal type of Englishness and a larger imperial Britishness. The English/British press is thus the epitome of a freely inquiring obstreperous press, an honest, down-to-earth, no-nonsense forum of debate, impatient with waffle and abstraction. This self-image, sustaining and flattering, continues to hold up today, despite a succession of scandals over the last two decades.

Until recently, it was both habitual and justifiable, in terms of the procedures of academic research, to distinguish between the study of the “vehicular” power of the different media and the severer criteria which apply to (1) the esthetic evaluation of the intrinsic value of artworks and (2) the political and philosophical evaluation of ideas and discourses. While McLuhan did propagate the mantra that the “medium is the message”, it could still be considered that this applied only to the popular media –press, television, film- insofar as the popular media were merely the site of popular culture, still subordinated to an elite high culture of

art and ideas, whose channels and modes of influence were those proper to an elite : academic reviews, “little magazines”, elite universities, commissions of inquiry, the editorials of the “serious” broadsheet newspapers, a world epitomized in Noel Annan’s book, Our Age, Portrait of a Generation, 1990, its features captured in the review of the book by Frank Kermode in the London Review of Book under the enigmatic title “Our Fault” : : http://www.lrb.co.uk/v12/n19/frank-kermode/our-fault.

In recent decades –since the remaking of English and British culture in the crucible of the “Swinging Sixties”- there is ample evidence that the construction of an Anglophone mediasphere, whose metropolitan heart is London, has been matched by a period of unquestionable artistic creativeness in dance, painting, popular music and “high” music (the boundaries are however more and more porous), photography, fashion, television : areas which give the lie to the facile prejudice that the English and the British were tone deaf and visually illiterate.

While avoiding any simplistic determinist model according to which inventiveness in the arts is to be considered as a mere effect of the economic power and cultural outreach of an Anglophone mediasphere, the aim of the conference is to examine the following questions :

the processes of cultural borrowing and appropriation – Britishing, mainstreaming, crossover – which have profoundly changed both the everyday culture of the British Anglosphere and the global projection of the latter ; the deployment and effects of the Anglophone mediasphere in the modified and enlarged conditions of the cybersphere ; the modes of interaction between the power of discourse and the power of images, in accordance with a grammar of cultural hegemony involving a reworking of the articulation between “soft power” and “hard power” which was valid for the analysis of previous phases of modernity. British influence in this new and post-imperial context of “soft power” manifests itself in a range of forms and fora. Media influence includes the global reach of the BBC and the continuing influence of British newspapers and periodicals via new media outlets, while London remains a home to new generations of artists and fashion designers. British educational institutions continue to embrace the global economy, opening their doors ever wider - at a cost - while a British mass culture for a global audience has been constructed around the production of features film and television, a galaxy of aging and iconic musicians and an array of iconic sporting institutions and personalities, Wimbledon and Wiggins.

In the wake of the London Olympics, which opened with a popular and populist ceremony depicting the Britain of yesteryear while celebrating the vibrancy of a modern multicultural society, it is timely to consider this deployment of soft power against the backdrop of contemporary Britain. More specifically, the aim of the conference is to explore and draw together common threads and themes – individual expression and freedom, an inherent consciousness of the past and a continuing national identity and iconoclasm – and to consider their influence in the context of broader political and social developments, including Britain’s faltering relationship with the EU, the response to the financial crisis and to Scottish devolution. In doing so, comparisons can be drawn with earlier periods and with the peculiar paradoxical traits of a country whose outlook and relationship with the world continue to be moulded by its past. From Mountbatten to Mittal, Britain’s unique relationship with India, for example, may yet shape the economic futures of both countries for years to come, as the currents of hard and soft power shift in ever evolving and surprising ways.

Submission guidelines The conference organisers invite submissions (a 200 word outline) for a 25 minute presentation addressing the question of the deployment of the British Anglophone “Mediasphere, Culture, Soft Power”.

Submissions will therefore address the topic in relation to the British society since the transformations of the 1960s.

Deadline for submissions : 31 October 2013.

Submissions are to be addressed by e-mail to the organising committee for the conference :

Amandine Ducray : aducray@hotmail.com Laurence Veyssière-Harris : laurence.veyssiere-Harris@u-paris10.fr Cornelius Crowley : Cornelius.crowley@u-paris10.fr Replies to those who have made submissions, with notification of acceptance or refusal of the proposal for the conference, will be sent out between December 1 and December 7, 2013

Citer cet article : http://www.histoiredesmedias.com/Appel-a-communications-colloque,4563.html

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