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.


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.



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