Call for papers: The Cultural Industries in the Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Britain and Germany Compared

Conveners: Christiane Eisenberg (Centre for British Studies at the Humboldt University, Berlin) and Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London)

Place and date: London, 20–21 Nov. 2009
Deadline: 31 Oct. 2008
__________________________________________________________________________ Increasingly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, patrons, associations, courts and the other public purveyors of culture were joined by private enterprises that approached the organisation of cultural events as a business, using professional methods such as targeted advertising and cooperation with the mass press, and employing professional artists and managers. These methods were applied not only to new cultural forms such as film, cinema and sport, but also to such traditional ones as theatre, concerts, choral performances and variety shows. The growing popularity of commercial culture irritated social reformers and politicians, and stimulated discussion of political interventions and new opportunities for social engineering.

As cultural industries of this sort had a long history in Britain, going back as far as the early modern period, they had become an accepted part of modern society by the late nineteenth century, like industrial production or the consumption of goods, and legal copyright was established early. By contrast, the literature on the cultural industries in Germany gives the impression that the breakthrough came later there, not until the end of the nineteenth century. It suggests that socially and politically, commercial culture was regarded in a highly critical way, some aspects of it being strongly rejected, and that the legal basis of commercialization was established with some delay. On the other hand, from the start political parties, churches and other ideological interests seem to have been readier to intervene politically and to nurture the cultural industries in Germany than in Britain—an aspect that is of interest in relation to the formulation and political instrumentalisation of mass culture during the interwar period.

A conference organized jointly by the German Historical Institute London and the Centre for British Studies at the Humboldt University, Berlin, to be held on 20–21 November 2009 in London, will investigate the context within which the cultural industries were created in Britain and Germany, and ask whether the paths of development and modes of reaction were really as different as the literature suggests. In addition, it will analyse perceptions and mutual cooperation between the actors. Survey papers and case studies devoted to individual cultural industries, comparative and single country studies are equally welcome. Contributors should ideally focus on one of the following core themes:

A) Cultural Industries as Business in Britain and Germany • The scope of markets (including competitors such as the state or the churches).
• Marketing methods and relations with the press.
• Sources of funding (public or private, subscriptions or ticket sales) and modes of organisation (firms, clubs, public events).
• Copyrights and the ‘economics of culture’; comparisons of specific cultural industries.

B) Cultural Industries in British and German Society • The social and economic context and the forces driving development.
• The interplay between the traditional and the modern; problems of periodisation.
• Interference of the state, political parties and private ‘vested interests’ (e.g. social control, security aspects, access for everybody, anti-capitalism).
• Motives, functions and dysfunctions of cultural policies.

The conference will be organised jointly by Christiane Eisenberg (Centre for British Studies at the Humboldt University, Berlin) and Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London). The organisers would like to receive proposals for presentations of no more than one or two pages in length. The participation of scholars working in fields other than history, such as sociologists, economists or cultural scientists is most welcome.
Please send your proposal in Word or pdf format to the e-mail addresses below. Closing date for submission is 31 October 2008.

Prof. Dr. Christiane Eisenberg Grossbritannien-Zentrum / Centre for British Studies Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin Mohrenstr. 60 10117 Berlin

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gestrich German Historical Institute 17 Bloomsbury Square London WC1A 2NJ

The planned conference is a follow-up to the annual conference of the German Association for the Study of British History and Politics (Arbeitskreis Deutsche Englandforschung, ADEF) held on 2–4 May 2008. A report of this first conference, which focused specifically British aspects of the cultural industries, is available at: HSozuKult


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