Interdisciplinary Conference (17-18 May 2013)
Theme: African newspaper cultures
Newspapers and print culture are an important emerging theme in African Studies, shedding light on the constitution of new publics, new genres and new forms of political and social expression and affiliation.
Newspapers provide a substantial and unique resource for scholars researching Africa's cultural and political history. They provide abundant traces of the events, concerns, idioms and debates of bygone times. They offer a form of access to current social life which, though inevitably partial and selective, is also detailed, taken at close range, and constantly unfolding. For these reasons, newspapers have often been exploited as a source of historical, social, cultural and political information – not only about events and ways of life, but about changing attitudes to these. However, it is less common, in African Studies, to find detailed studies of the newspapers themselves: – as a textual form; as a product of local business practices; as a site of discursive experimentation; and as a network or space where specific kinds of interaction take place. In this workshop our object of inquiry is newspaper culture. We wish to explore the ways in which readers, writers, and editors in Africa have been able to experiment with different forms of public address and new genres of writing, and the ways in which the press convenes new kinds of public through the medium of print. Research topics may focus on any region of Africa and any period in the history of newspaper culture, up to and including the present day.
Among the questions we will be addressed were:
How have newspapers helped to produce diverse political identities?
How do newspapers interact with street talk, oral genres, media channels, and social networking sites? What kind of linguistic interfaces (between English, pidgins, and African languages) do they produce?
What kind of new publics have been convened by newspapers?
How do newspapers create a space for textual experimentation, and what new genres and styles of writing have been forged in newspapers and magazines?
How do local social/ economic/ business conditions affect the production, distribution and readership of newspapers and magazines?
Who are the newspaper audiences, and how do they read?
In what ways do newspapers and magazines furnish sites for the creation of celebrity, self- invention and misinformation?