Using the press coverage of the Franco-Prussian war as a starting point, Michèle Martin'sImages at Warexamines nineteenth-century illustrated periodicals published in France, Germany, England, and Canada (with references also to Italy and the United States), and argues that periodicals during this period worked to reinforce particular national identities.
Images in periodicals played an essential role in how the concept of nationalism was expressed and reproduced, usually by pitting cultures and countries against one another. These illustrated periodicals helped to shape nations where nations had not previously existed - such as with Germany, Italy, and Canada, which were only just coming into their own as states. In war, Martin observes, these documents also represented a non-verbal method of communicating emotionally trying, politically challenging, and oftentimes contradictory information to the public, literate and non-literate alike.
The history of nineteenth-century illustrated papers underscores their legitimacy as a form of journalism. They were more than a commodity produced for profit; they offered serious reflection and commentary on the times designed by editors to have specific effects on the readers.Images at Waris a much-needed study of this early news medium and its part in the construction of nationalism in the midst of war.
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