Communication History


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History is one of the most well-established themes in the study of communication. Recent years have witnessed an intensification of this interest in history. Those doing historical work in communication now have a designated home in the International Communication Assocation: the Communication History Division.

The notion of 'communication history,' in this division, pulls together no fewer than three major areas of research:

I) The History of Communication, including Media History
This branch of communication history involves research that concerns itself with issues in the history of communication praxis. What is commonly called media history will be a major component of this area of communication history. Much of the historical work in the field of communication addresses this set of issues.

II) The History of the Idea of Communication
Scholars who address this issue take on one of the fundamental task of understanding how communication has been conceptualized, as well as how and why these conceptualizations have changed over time.

III) The History of the Field of Communication
This subfield in communication history provides a home to those who ask questions about how the study of communication has developed. Much as other social sciences (including psychology, sociology, anthropology,
and economics) feature subfields that address their own histories, the history of the field of communication allows us to engage in a reflexive dialogue concerning the strengths and weaknesses of the institution of communication studies.

The purpose of this Interest Group is to promote theory, research, and professional education in the history of communication. This Interest Group will bring together scholars who face similar intellectual and methodological challenges.


International Communication Association

Communication History Division

Preconference schedule:

Communications and the State: Towards a New International History

May 21, 2015

Condado Hilton Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Cost: $85



8:30 a.m.: Welcome


8:40-10:00Communications and the state in the early modern era

“The Cotswold Olimpick Games: Sport, Politics and Faith in early modern England,” Mark Brewin (The University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States)


“Three thirteenth-century travel accounts of missions to the Far East,” Kathryn Montalbano (Columbia University, New York, United States)


“A Republic Run as a Chamber of Commerce: The Role of the State in Structuring Communications in Renaissance Venice,” Juraj Kittler (St. Lawrence University, New York, United States)


“The Post Office and State Formation in World Historical Time,” Lane Harris (Furman University, South Carolina, United States)



10:00-10:15: Coffee


10:15-11:35Communication networks – mail, telegraph, telephone

“Communications and the States: The Swiss Influence on the origins of ITU, 1855-1876,” Gabriele Balbi (Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland), Simone Fari, Giuseppe Richeri.


“Mail Order Fraud, Postal Inspectors, and the Remaking of Consumer Capitalism in the United States, 1850-1900,” Rick Popp (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States)


 “Media of Resistance: Organizing the Anti-Colonial Movements in the Dutch East Indies, 1920-1927,” Rianne Subijanto (University of Colorado Boulder, United States)


Sara Bannerman, (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada) “International Copyright and Access to Education: A History”


11:35-12:40 p.m.: Lunch (participants provide their own lunch)


12:40-2 p.m.:

International Dimensions of Broadcasting and the State.

“News and Propaganda in the Cold War: Associated Press and the Voice of America, 1945-1952,” Gene Allen (Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada)


“Colonization through Broadcasting: Rádio Clube de Moçambique and the Promotion of Portuguese Colonial Policy,” Nelson Ribeiro (Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon, Portugal)


“A House Divided: The SABC during World War Two,” Ruth Teer-Tomaselli (University KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa)


“Subsidizing Content and Conduit: Global Wireless Communications and the State,” Heidi Tworek (Harvard University, Massachusetts, United States)


Communications and the State: The Case of Germany

“A Story of Transition and Failure? The State and the East German Media Reform 1989-1991,” Mandy Tröger (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States)


“Presence and Absence: The Berlin Wall as a Strategic Platform,” Samantha Oliver (University of Pennsylvania, United States)


“Heads of State as Communicators – A Comparative Analysis of State of the Union Addresses of American Presidents and “Regierungserklärungen” of German Chancellors since 1945/49,” Thomas Birkner (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany)


“The Necessary Restraints of National Security”: Cold War U.S. Government-Journalism Negotiations and the Communist Reaction,” Mike Conway (Indiana University, United States) and Kevin Grieves (Ohio University, United States)



2 p.m.-2:15: Coffee



The State and Infrastructure

 “How the French State did not Construct Nicholas Schöffer’s Tour Lumière Cybernétique?”, Dominuque Trudel, New York University, United States)


 “The phantom of the phone booth: Toward a material and cultural history of the telephone in Israel,” Rivka Ribak, Michele Rosenthal and Sharon Ringel (University of Haifa, Israel)


“Minitel and the State,” Julien Mailland (Indiana University, United States) and Kevin Driscoll (Microsoft Research, United States)


“Connected and Divided: Satellite Networks as Infrastructures of Live Television” Christine Evans (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States) and Lars Lundgren (Södertörn University, Sweden)


The State and Communication Across Borders

“Media, Communications and the State in the Nordic Region: The History of the Media Welfare State” Trine Syvertsen and Gunn Enli (University of Oslo, Norway), Ole J. Mjøs and Hallvard Moe (University of Bergen, Norway)


“‘Home Is Where Your Heart Is’: Mediated Longing for the State,” Ekaterina Kalinina (Södertörn University, Sweden) and Manuel Menke (Augsburg University, Germany)


“Theorizing Political Communication Policies,” Tim Vos (University of Missouri, United States)


“Commercial cross-border radio: Popular culture, advertising, and the erosion of state communication power in comparative perspective: Britain, India and America” John Jenks(Dominican University, United States)


3:45-5:00Closing plenary: The State of the Field


Daniel Hallin (University of California, San Diego)

Richard John (Columbia University)

Adrian Johns (University of Chicago)



Call for Paper Proposals
Communities of Communication II: Newspapers and Periodicals in Britain and Ireland from 1800 to 1900
10-11 September 2015, U of Edinburgh
Organised by the Office of Lifelong Learning, U of Edinburgh

As part of an ongoing initiative to map current research in British and Irish press history, this conference will provide a forum for the discussion of a broad range of thematic and methodological approaches to nineteenth-century journalism. It follows on from a similar conference held at Sheffield University’s Centre for Journalism Studies in September 2014.

This conference, like its 2014 predecessor, aims to contribute to a planned series on British and Irish newspapers and periodicals commissioned by Edinburgh University Press under the general editorship of Professor Martin Conboy (Sheffield) and Professor David Finkelstein (Edinburgh). It provides a significant opportunity for scholars to develop work based on fresh research, including the various digital resources now available. We are pleased to note that Professor Aled Gruffydd Jones, Chief Executive and Librarian of the National Library of Wales, will give the keynote address.

We welcome papers addressing any of the following areas:

· Individual publications of note; important/significant editors/owners/journalists

· Thematic overviews, particularly ones that examine concepts such as the public sphere, definitions of the press in 19th century contexts, or the political economy of the press

· Assessments of regionaland national identity, including the role of publications in articulating ethnic and gendered identities throughout the period across and within the 19th century nation states of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales

· The movement of print information across space and time

· Print and media networks and communication structures

· Contextualisations of press and newspaper activity within a social history of communication

· Contextualisations of print media as shaped by technological, political and cultural forces

· Surveys of the extension and expansion of readership

· Patterns of migration and national, regional, global communication exchanges

· Analyses of newspaper and periodical publishing in specific cities or regions

· The newspaper and periodical press as a physical artifact

· Aspects of visual culture, including graphic design, illustration and technological developments in both newspaper and periodical press.

· The commodification and professionalisation of journalism and the periodical press

· The role of the reader in press interactions, such as through letters pages, editorials and responses to and engagements with media campaigns.

20-minute presentations are invited which engage with any of the broad themes above. Queries re the planned programme or initiative can be directed to Prof. David Finkelstein at

Presentation proposals of 300-500 words can be submitted via the conference website at, outlining which strand of the call will be addressed.



  • Richard K. Popp, Chair
  • David W. Park, Vice-Chair
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