Friday, November 2, 2012

CFP: GHI 2013 Workshop on “New Technologies and Cultures of Communication”

On May 9-10, 2013, the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., will hold a workshop on the topic, "New Technologies and Cultures of Communication in the 19th and 20th Centuries." The conveners are Richard R. John (Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism), Peter Jelavich (The Johns Hopkins University), Benjamin Schwantes (German Historical Institute Washington), and Clelia Caruso (German Historical Institute Washington). The call for papers states, in part:
Changes in communication routines are often linked to the emergence of new communications media. The advent of electrical media beginning in the mid-19th century has had a significant impact on the communication cultures of modern societies. Technologies such as the telegraph, telephone, and radio affected established communication routines by changing communication practices and altering cultural meanings attached to them. Preexisting communication cultures, in return, shaped usages of these evolving communications media. Technologies are defined by their usages, that is, by the usages that prevail, not necessarily the ones initially intended. Nevertheless, dominant usages of a medium do not solely result from social practice, but also from the attribution of cultural meanings that make certain usages plausible and therefore dominant. Along with generations of users, inventors, technological experts, firms, and regulatory regimes all played roles in standardizing and (re-)categorizing usages of new media. In addition, descriptions and definitions, conceptions and images of a medium created and changed by politicians, social experts, journalists, artists, and other authorities imposed meaning on the technology and helped to define its use within and across societies. . . .
     Papers should focus on technologically mediated communication that requires specific appliances not just on the sender's, but also on the receiver's, side (which are interchangeable for some of the media that the conference addresses). Papers should draw on historical communication practices, as well as on the cultural meanings attached to them. We would want the papers to explore the development of media in the "interpretive flexibility" stage by focusing on factors that facilitated specific usages of communications media, while possibly hindering others, and by examining the basic technical, physical,social, cultural, and political-economic qualities attributed to the media in the process.
For greater detail, please see the complete call for papers on the GHI website.
    Those interested should send an abstract of 1,000-1,500 words and a one-page CV to Susanne Fabricius by January 15, 2013. Invitations will be sent out by February 15, 2013; fullpapers or longer abstracts are due by April 1, 2013.
     For further information, please contact Benjamin Schwantes ( or Clelia Caruso (; phone: (202) 552-8947.