Off the Radar: Periodical Print Media Outside Mainstream Culture, 1800 – Today

Event, 30-31 January 2021, online

Postgraduate Conference in Comparative Literature and Culture, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

The conference will take place online. Please send an email to receive an invitation. []

This interdisciplinary conference is dedicated to periodical print media (newspapers, magazines, zines) that thrive(d) outside the ‘mainstream,’ i.e., that are not backed by big publishers and/or geared towards a commercially defined majority in terms of taste, politics, and language. We invite advanced graduate students, PhD students, and postdocs/ECRs to consider periodicals as ‘autonomous objects of study’ (Latham/Scholes) and seek discussions of new aspects in well-researched genres like little magazines together with papers on hitherto neglected titles.

Periodicals are low-threshold media that lend themselves to grass-roots activism and avant-garde experimentation: from the lifting of stamp duties in 19th-century Britain to advances in printing technology and the introduction of desktop publishing software in the 20th century on a global scale, they are widely available to communicate, experiment, agitate, and represent diverse voices and communities. The conference considers periodicals that are, in one way or another, off the radar of a widespread audience and cater to more select readerships as ‘alternative,’ ‘underground,’ ‘radical,’ ‘niche,’ ‘diasporic,’ ‘minority,’ ‘avant-garde,’ ‘pulp,’ ‘independent,’ or ‘subcultural’ media. We expressly do not limit inquiries to North America and Europe.

To enable an understanding of these print media landscapes in specific historical moments in their constellations of mainstream and periphery/avant-garde, we seek papers addressing not only single issues, but also entire runs, contexts, networks, infrastructures, seriality, materiality, and other aspects. The procedural development of print media and a changing understanding of what constitutes the realm ‘outside the mainstream’ (and how these print media participate(d) in a broader, ongoing cultural discussion) are aspects to consider: We are, for example, interested in 19th and early 20th century developments of chartist, spiritualist, indigenous, revolutionary, suffragette, and abolitionist periodicals, the little magazines of modernism, the first fanzines and pulp magazines of the 30s and 40s, the alternative and underground press of the (mid-)20th-century, the style press of the late 20th century, and the current boom of indie magazines. In short: the constellation of newspapers and magazines finding readers outside the mainstream, economically, aesthetically, or ideologically—and depending on how the mainstream press is defined—from 1800 to today.


Saturday, 30 Jan.

3-3:15 pm
Opening remarks by the organisers
Welcome by Professor Barbara Schaff, Chair of English Language and Literature, Göttingen University

3:15-4:15 pm
Ian Afflerbach, University of North Georgia, USA
“Science Fiction Pulps and Popular Culture”

4:15-4:30 pm Coffee break

4:30-5:30 pm
Session I Periodical Avant-gardes

Barbara Winckler, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
“What defines ‘Mainstream’ vs. ‘Niche’ Journal? The Beirut-based journal al-Marʾa al-Jadīda (The New Woman; 1921-27) as an Example: Editors, Authors and Readers – Political and Social Views – Archiving Practices”

Sabrina Czelustek, Leibniz University, Hanover, Germany
“The Avant-garde Scrapbook”

5:30-5:45 pm Coffee break

5:45-6:45 pm
Session II Navigating Periodical Mainstreams and Niches

Alice Morin, Philipps-University Marburg, Germany
“From Underground to Mainstream? Influences and Convergences in/of Andy Warhol's Interview’s editorial formula”

Matina Paraskeva, University of Patras, Greece
“Wandering Words: The Case of the Greek Periodical Πλανόδιον (Planόdion)”

Jan. 31 Sunday

2-3:30 pm Session III Minorities and Periodical Communities

Moritz Bauerfeind, Basel University, Switzerland
“The Periphery in the Periphery – The Beginning of Jewish Reformed Press in Bavaria”

Hanna Sellheim, Göttingen University, Germany
“Elias Boudinot’s writings in the Cherokee Phoenix as Counter-Discourse of Justice”

Liam Young, Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada
“The Lottery of Death: Cattle Plague, Trichinosis, and Vegetarian Periodicals in the 1860s”

3:30-3:45 pm Coffee break

3:45-5:15 pm Session IV Mapping Spaces: Identity, Nation, and Place

Avani Tandon Vieira, University of Cambridge, UK
“‘Like Cartographers Mapping the City’: Geographic Negotiations and Indian Literary Subcultures”

Elena Ogliari, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Italy
“Nationalist Periodicals for Juveniles in Ireland (1910-1920s): A Matter of Negotiation”

Sandra Meerwein, Mainz University, Germany
“MOMENT – The Reconfiguration of Identity through ‘Translocality’”

5:15-5:30 pm Coffee break

5:30-6:30 pm
Putting Indies and Zines on the Radar

Nina Prader, The Impossible Library, Hamburg, Germany
“Impossible Library Practices”