Aspects of media discussed in visiting press historians' seminar

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Two visiting Swedish press historians will present a special seminar at Sydney’s Macquarie University on Wednesday.

Patrik Lundell and Andreas Nyblom, both from the Lund University, address the free seminar in Room 127 of Building W6A at the Macquarie University on November 11 from 2.45-4.30 pm.

Lundell’s topic is ‘From participation to professionalism: The historiography of the press as a resource’ while Nyblom will talk on ‘National history, personal objects: On the media and materiality of celebrity culture’.

‘From participation to professionalism: The historiography of the press as a resource’ –

How were the traditional distinctions between media producers and media consumers – taken for granted by many interpreters of our digital age – made? Who made them? When? Why? The presentation reflects on some aspects of primarily Swedish press history and press historiography. The editorial ideals and practices of the Enlightenment newspaper press are presented with regard to their participatory elements. The decline of those ideals and practises, during what is commonly termed the establishment of the modern press in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s, is understood in relation to its advocates’ self-legitimating ambitions. Those were performed in various ways, one being simply ignoring their precursors, another over-emphasizing the non-participatory (or professional) qualities of their own enterprise. The modern editors’ depictions of both past and present have had great influence on historiography up until today.

Patrik Lundell’s research focuses on the cultural history of the media. His dissertation, Pressen i provinsen (The Press in the Provinces: Nordic Academic Press), on changes in editorial ideals and practices c. 1750 to 1850, was published in 2002. His latest books are the co-edited anthologies Mediernas kulturhistoria (2008) and Media and Monarchy in Sweden (2009), and he is currently co-editing a book on the media systems of the nineteenth century. Lundell has also published several articles, for example in Media History, on the strivings for legitimacy of the Swedish press, a process analyzed as a co-production, carried out in a wide range of media forms and by various agents.

National history, personal objects: On the media and materiality of celebrity culture

What is the King’s underwear doing in a museum? This presentation deals with the production of celebrity in the past, and especially with the relation between the media and materiality of celebrity – how material objects – relics/personal belongings – of writers, explorers and scientists were (and still are) ascribed a function as mediators of personality. Such biographical objects, in museum collections, are not simply authentic representations of individuals, but rather objects transformed through their relations with famous people. This phenomenon calls to attention how celebrity interest media of the past have had impact on the production of historiography. Through museum representations the objects themselves are turned into media that, in time and space, continue to legitimate the public presence of their former owners.

Andreas Nyblom’s research concerns the cultural production of celebrity, especially during the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. His dissertation, Ryktbarhetens ansikte (The Face of Fame, Stockholm: Atlantis, 2008), employs methodologies from fields of research such as Science and Technology Studies, Media History, and the emerging field of Celebrity Studies. The thesis is characterised as a contribution to the media history of literature, the main point being that if we study other media and other signifying practices (e.g. visual representations) than those traditionally defined by literary historians and critics, we will obtain a more dynamic understanding of the past. The public concern with the writer’s personality brings attention to the impact of celebrity culture on the processes of literary historiography.
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