2008 Conference

Characters of the Press

Roehampton University, London, U.K, 4-5 July 2008

“Character” was the term commonly used of the Victorian press for what today we might call the “brand personality” of a periodical – its distinctive features as a commodity in the marketplace. But how was this “character” created? Some periodicals identified themselves as people (one thinks of Mr Punch, or the less voluble human figures on many a masthead) or with people (Howitt’s Journal, Reynolds’s Miscellany, Blackwood’s, or perhaps a reliable stable of authors, or a named editor). Many sought to improve the character of readers by offering heroes or heroines for emulation. Some preferred a recurrent set of textual practices – format, layout, size, range of departments. Some characters were generated through the targeting of specific audiences such as grocers or suffragettes, radical workers or young imperialists. Others were prompted by the occasions on which they expected to be encountered – for family reading on Sundays, over weekday breakfast or while commuting. And then there is the vital question of how the press in general (or sections of it) were characterised by those within and outside it: what metaphors were mobilised and why? This conference, then, offers a wide and varied route into the exciting and still only partially explored territory of Victorian periodicals.

Original Conference website: The original conference website was hosted at Roehampton and no longer exists.

Call for Papers: The call for papers can be downloaded here.

Conference Program: The conference program is available to be downloaded here.

Abstracts: Abstracts of the papers that were delivered can be downloaded here.