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Images at War

Images at War: Illustrated Periodicals and Constructed Nations

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Images at War
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7599-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction: The Eyes of the Readers
    (pp. 3-11)

    On the morning of Saturday, 23 July 1870, M. Sellières, a Parisian bourgeois, enters his dining room for breakfast and is pleased to see that, as usual, his favourite illustrated paper, theIllustration,has been put beside his place setting, carefully ironed and neatly folded. Unfolding it, he notices, on the front page, an engraving of the bridge that links France to Prussia over the river Rhine, and that, according to the caption, was ‘rolled back’ by the Germans as a result of the declaration of war by France on Prussia.¹ Curious, he begins to leaf through his paper and...

  6. CHAPTER ONE The Illustrated Press in Its Sociopolitical Context
    (pp. 12-42)

    In 1870 the illustrated press was in its thirty-ninth year of existence, though the inclusion of current news in the content was somewhat more recent. The illustrated newspapers studied here belong to what Bacot has defined as the second generation of the generalist illustrated press;¹ the first generation began in 1832 with thePenny Magazineof Charles Knight. This publication was promoted by the Society for the Development of Useful Knowledge, of which Knight was one of the founders. Inspired by encyclopaedism, its content was mainly concerned with ‘useful knowledge,’ namely, information that aimed at educating the public. Each issue...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Production of Illustrations in Context
    (pp. 43-70)

    In the mid-nineteenth century, illustrations were part of the transformation of the press into a consumer product driven by competition. Some entrepreneurs had noticed that illustrations in a newspaper could turn any topic into an attraction for the public, namely, into what the readers wanted, thereby increasing circulation. Still, images were feared by some groups, particularly the church and the state.¹ What context, then, transformed visual representations into legitimate content? What process established which images should be included or which excluded? Visual representations have their own codes and rules which must first be examined in order to understand their constructed...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Making History
    (pp. 71-105)

    By 1870-1 the illustrated press had become a very important part of the press industry as a weekly means of informing Europeans about current affairs. Periodicals and illustrations had existed separately for centuries, but had been put together on a regular basis only since the 1830s. It is only in the 1840s that we begin to find widely distributed illustrated newspapers spreading images of current events. These papers hired various types of artists and allowed them to make a living. ‘These new picture papers were to become the most influential of visual communication of their time, providing artists with their...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Feeding Memories
    (pp. 106-144)

    The role of the press during a war is ambiguous. What is it going to report, uncover? How is it going to report it? How can reporters remain ‘objective’ when they cover their own country at war? Or even when they are invited to accompany troops belonging to one side or the other? And finally, how are the reports, especially the illustrated ones, going to be transmitted to the periodicals? Journalists, artists, and editors are mediators who must not only give as much, and as accurate, information as possible, but who have to sell it on the market. What they...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Preparing for War Coverage
    (pp. 145-183)

    Illustrated periodicals were rather slow to respond to France’s declaration of war on Prussia. Except in Germany, where periodicals had full confidence in their military forces, everyone thought that the French army had such superiority over the Prussians that the war would be short and of no consequence. All the French papers were enthusiastic about the coming of the war, actually taking it lightly, and they all approved of the action taken by their government. Only some English and American papers were more or less sceptical about the outcome. As for the Canadian papers, they expressed concern about the fact...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Managing the Unexpected, Boosting National Feelings
    (pp. 184-235)

    As we saw in the preceding chapter, all papers experienced, to various degrees, an eventuation rupture during the first part of the war, prior to Napoleon III’s surrender. This rupture was made evident in the content of all the papers, though it was more apparent in some than others. This differentiation in degrees of rupture was experienced among papers at other levels as well. Indeed, newspapers not only in different countries but also in the same country had divergent general editorial policies that influenced their political approach to the conflict. Moreover, during its course, the Franco-Prussian War took unexpected turns,...

  12. Conclusion: Constructing Memories
    (pp. 236-246)

    In all the countries under study, illustrated periodicals were the only means available to people to see, on a regular basis, what was happening on the front line of the Franco-Prussian War. These periodicals were sold by the hundreds of thousands, reaching a large number of people from various classes. Beginning at the end of July 1870 and ending with the departure of the Germans from Paris in March 1871, the war was the subject of wide and extensive coverage by most of these periodicals. Only sporadic illustrations for commemorations and anniversaries of the most important battles were published after...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 247-294)
  14. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 295-296)
  15. Index
    (pp. 297-302)