This one-day, in-person, interdisciplinary workshop will bring together researchers, archivists and curators to explore twentieth-century photo-magazines from across the British Empire and Commonwealth during the so-called ‘golden age of photojournalism’. Registration is now open - it is not being streamed so attendance in person is necessary.
As well as the birth of photojournalism, the seismic political, cultural and technological revolutions of the interwar period also gave rise to a novel publication format – the photo-magazine. As Stuart Hall characterised it in his seminal 1972 essay on Picture Post, these were ‘image-over-text’ publications which gave primacy to the photographic image arranged into dynamic layouts and photo-stories by an innovative cadre of picture editors and art directors.
Exemplified by photo-reportage from the Spanish Civil War, this novel format was catalysed during the Second World War via widely circulated visual information campaigns by both commercial organisations and political actors. In the postwar period, the photo-magazine format was deployed by British occupying forces in defeated Germany. Photo-magazines were also a vital element of flourishing public relations initiatives by both newly established agencies of the UN and a host of industrial and manufacturing companies concerned about image management.
Thus, throughout the central decades of the last century, the general readership photo-magazine was developed and used to communicate with large, diverse and/or distant audiences. This format constituted a defining aspect of a public’s visual experience prior to the segmentation of magazine audiences from the 1960s and the dominance of television. This period – arguably, the golden age of photojournalism – coincides with the decline and disestablishment of the British Empire.
A selection of papers will look at publications from across the British Empire and Commonwealth in this period. These will address how such photo-magazines sought to instruct and entertain; how they represented social issues; how they othered and racialised indigenous communities; how they documented conflict; how they obscured, as much as revealed, historical developments; how they constructed, connected or divided audiences and publics; and how they explored or framed key tensions in the changing political landscape of the British Commonwealth and its constituent dominions and dependencies.
Hosted by the Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History at Cardiff University, this initiative is a collaboration between Dr Tom Allbeson (Senior Lecturer in Media History, Cardiff University) and Dr Kevin Foster (Associate Professor in Literary Studies, Monash University).
Photo-magazines across the British Empire & Commonwealth, c.1930-65
Friday, 22 September 2023
See the programme and register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/photo-magazines-across-the-british-empire-commonwealth-c1930-65-tickets-714578191607?aff=oddtdtcreator