Call for papers: Representing Political Figures in Mass Media (XVIIIth – XXIst century)

Culturhisto 2009: International Doctoral Candidates Conference on Cultural History

Wednesday, May 13th 2009
University Library Auditorium,

Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

Only doctoral and post doctoral candidate’s papers will be considered for this conference. Confirmed researchers will be invited to attend the event and comment on the work of presenting doctoral candidates. The conference will foster collegial relations among young scholars internationally as well as connect them with more established mentors.

Political figures are the source of a complex imaginary that fascinates both media and public. Consider how contemporary electoral campaigns, TV clip, presidential speeches, political biographies, election posters function today. This is not a new phenomenon: political communication and the development of public personalities are familiar political practices. « Peopolisation » -or how political figures have become celebrities- is a new and rapidly developing area of study that has drawn the attentions of cultural historians and political observers. Studies in political representation increasingly consider the significance of longer time-frames, the impact of evolving media practices, and benefit from international and comparative perspectives.

Representing Political Figures in Mass Media conference operates within the field of international cultural history and invites reflection on the images (still and animated) and discourses of power. We invite researchers who work on the representations of individuals in power in European and American countries to investigate how the modalities of the mass media are used to popularize politics and how these in turn inform the construction of political memory and/or national identity. Proposals should address the media representations of political figures (be they a local personality or a prominent national politician) from 1776 to the present. Primary focus will be European and American democracies.
The conference will focus on the conditions involved in the processes of creation, production and reception of the media products. This observation will enable us to get a clearer view on the degree to which politicians are responsible for their image in the media.

The following aspects should be considered:

The politician’s language and non verbal communication, attitude, clothing’s social codes, etc.: the researcher will need to explain the symbols used by the politician and his references (intertextuality)

The situations selected for representation, the actions and ideas at the core of the discourse, the kind of role he projects to the outside world (the role of an actor or an observer, of a leader or a coordinator), and the closeness the politician intends to have with its audience (the degree to which he wants to be a father, a friend, a colleague, a professor and the affective levels implied in each degree).

The reference to functions aside from the political: does he present himself as an athlete, a family man, a seducer, a businessman, an intellectual, a peace, ecology or social activist, etc.

The setting and staging will be considered as important actors in the message too.

No media will be excluded from the conference, as long as they contribute to ex

plaining the cultural meaning behind the representations of figures of power. Fictions and information will be considered equally, and diversity of sources will be appreciated. Studies on television, radio, press (main and specialised, newspapers, magazines, online), photography, books, posters, online material will all be accepted.

An international comparative approach will be greatly appreciated, but is not a requirement. Although the conference will ultimately aim at defining a comparative international field of research, the committee believes this can also be achieved by a cross-comparison of national cases. To make its cultural history approach complete, the conference will take into consideration the circulation of images and cultural transfers. The main purpose of the conference will be to better appreciate how the popular outlook on the politician has transformed during the past two centuries.

These are the main directions of the conference sessions: The relation of the politician to public opinion ; «Peopolisation »: the confusion between private and public life, between the worlds of politics and celebrities ; Biographies and autobiographies ; · Practices and rituals ; · Posterity

Any student enrolled in a Ph.D. or post doctoral program in History, Political Science, Media Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Literature and Civilisation and related disciplines at the time of the conference is eligible. Students enrolled at universities outside of France are especially encouraged to submit proposals. Representing Political Figures in Mass Media conference aims at providing researchers on the media treatment of politics with a space for discussion.

Presentations can be delivered in English or in French. Participants are asked to turn in a 1500 word abstract (in English or in French, or both) before March 31st, 2009. This conference will result in a publication.

Paper proposals submission: 300 words text (in French or in English) with a clear title should be send before December 31st 2008 to Sophie Kienlen. We kindly request candidates to include the following information: status and current functions, field of study, thesis subject, doctoral/post-doctoral year, the name of your tutor, university (with address), laboratory and doctoral school. Scientific committee’s answer: February 15th 2009

Scientific committee: Christian Delporte, Jean-Yves Mollier, Caroline Moine, Jean-Claude Yon and Jacques Pothier, John Dean (Versailles St Quentin University, FRANCE), Pascal Ory (Paris 1 Sorbonne University, FRANCE), Jean-François Sirinelli (Sciences Po Paris, FRANCE), Jean-Marie Charon, Jacques Revel and François Weil (EHESS, FRANCE), Matthias Steinle (Paris 3 New Sorbonne University, FRANCE), Annie Duprat (CNRS-LCP, FRANCE), Marie Anne Matard-Bonucci (Grenoble 2 University, FRANCE), Hilary Footitt (University of Reading, UK), Marilisa Merolla (University-“La Sapienza”, ITALY), Juan Antonio García Galindo (Malaga University, SPAIN), Jérôme Bourdon (Tel-Aviv University, ISRAEL), Zdravka Konstantinova (Sofia University, BULGARIA), Maria Nesterova (Saint-Petersburg State University for Cinema and Television, RUSSIA), Vanessa R. Schwartz (University of Southern California, USA), Bertram M. Gordon (Mills College, USA), Jeremy D. Popkin (University of Kentucky, USA), Michael Spingler (Clark University, USA), Philip Whalen (Coastal Carolina University, USA), Edward Berenson and Martin Schain (New York University, USA)

Organisation committee: Sophie Kienlen, Klervi Le Collen, Géraldine Poels and Sylvain Lesage (Doctoral Candidate, Versailles Saint Quentin University, FRANCE), Anne-Laure Anizan (Research Fellow, Centre for History, Sciences Po Paris, FRANCE), Dries Vrijders (Doctoral Candidate, Ghent University, BELGIUM), Mark Braude (Doctoral Candidate, University of Southern California, USA), Matthew Watkins (New York University, USA)

For additional information visit the conference website

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