ESPRit ‘Periodicals and the Law’ Network (P&LN) online seminar series

This seminar series will initially be organised during the 2023-2024 academic year by Aled Jones and Gioula Koutsopanagou, supported by a sub-group comprising Mara Logaldo and Nora Ramtke. Its purpose is to create a network for the creation of collaborative, transnational and comparative work on press regulation and press practices in print and visual material in and across different national contexts with respect to the law, and to the law-related professions of journalists, lawyers, lawmakers. and legal periodicals. Subjects may include: IP and copyright in the context of the notion of protected work, such as printed and visual material (photographs and artworks), moral rights (appropriation art, remixes), ownership (authors and editors, printed matter, photographers, reporters), exceptions and limitations (fair use), infringements, Creative Commons license, civil law protection (rights of privacy, right of publicity, personal data protection), fiscal policies, libel legislation, obscenity laws, state censorship, court injunctions, and state security restrictions (e.g. for national defence in wartime). The field also includes studies of the persecution and prosecution of reporters, editors, writers and publishers, legal restrictions on ownership (e.g. anti-Trust, anti-monopoly laws), media laws covering advertising, laws covering reporter access (e.g. the UK Lobby system), or geographic areas/militarised zones of restricted access, and war reporting. It is envisaged that work undertaken by researchers in their own institutions or individually, based on local/national collections, with an interdisciplinary approach, may then be considered in a broader, multinational context. The online seminars will each last one hour and will consist of two papers of 15 minutes each, followed by discussion.

Seminar 1: 17 November 2023, 3pm CET (chair: Nora Ramtke)

JELENA LALATOVIĆ (Institute for Literature and Art, Belgrade): “Campaigning Against State Repression in the Periodical Press: Censorship and Resistance in the Yugoslav Context (1928˗1938)”

In 1928 a prominent Yugoslav writer August Cesarec issued a newspaper The Protection of a Human: an Independent Herald for Human and Civil Rights aimed at campaigning against the Law for the protection of the state, whose main goal was to curb free speech and freedom of expression in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The newspaper The Protection of a Human thus represents the first periodical of this genre (entirely dedicated to a single cause) in the history of Yugoslav periodicals. Additionally, it established a specific rhetoric of defending the position of the free press, specifically in the genre of reporting. The aim of the research is twofold. Firstly, I would like to explore how the left-wing periodical press of the thirties, which were succumbed to severe censorship and persecution by the authorities, inherited and developed the strategies and tactics set as an example by Cesarec’s newspaper. Along with that, I would like to elaborate on whether this analysis allows us to outline a new classification of these periodicals on the basis that they cherished a specific meta-dimension embodied in their rhetoric and editorial underpinnings – deliberation on the position of the press in an authoritarian society. In other words, I use the Yugoslav context as a case study to examine how the legal framework (including the pretexts such as a libel or offense to restrain the freedom of expression) influenced the typology and morphology of the socially and politically engaged periodicals. The methodology I use relies on a comparative reading of the rhetoric and practice of censorship, which includes an examination of the archival documents of the Central Press Bureau, and periodicals whose editorial policy was based on a systematic opposition to repression and censorship.

Jelena Lalatović is a Belgrade-based researcher. She obtained her PhD having defended a thesis entitled ‘The Genres of Literary Criticism and Polemic in the Student Periodical Press: the Oppositional Public Sphere from 1937 to 1968’ at the University of Belgrade. She is currently working on a monograph based on the doctoral research. Along with Dr Dario Boemia she has been organizing a conference ‘Between Distant and Close Reading: Periodical Studies and Humanities in the 21st Century’. Her field of interest includes cultural and literary studies, as well as political and intellectual history, and its impact on literature. She works as a research assistant at the Institute for Literature and Art.

MICHAEL LÖRCH (Researcher and translator): “Decentralized Censorship in a Centralized State: The ‘Guidance and Control’ of Scholarly Periodicals in the German Democratic Republic”

The 1949 constitution of the German Democratic Republic boldly declared in its 9th article that “There is no press censorship”. The country’s second constitution of 1968 avoided the taboo word of ‘censorship’ altogether, declaring instead that the “Freedom of the press, radio and television is guaranteed”. Consequently, there would never be any official law or regulatory text detailing the practice of censorship taking place in the East German state. Instead, the heavily centralized country relied on a decentralized system of ‘control and guidance’, transferring much of the responsibility on individual editors, authors, and other media professionals. Those, however, could, for most of the time, not rely on any document and instead had to anticipate what Party officials deemed printable, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and uncertainty. The practice of censorship therefore took place in a legal grey area, with State and Party relying on the use of euphemisms such as ‘guidance’, ‘control’ and ‘support, framing acts of censorship as sponsorship or the result of economic shortages. Much of the censorship therefore occurred in the form of pre- and self-censorship. The lack of a written law nonetheless created some leeway that resourceful editors and authors could carefully exploit. While these mechanisms have been subject of scholarly interest regarding the country’s book, newspaper and film production, the effect on periodicals has so far been neglected. This paper will therefore illustrate the ‘guidance and control’ exerted on even the most peripheral periodicals by looking at the Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik (1953-present), a scholarly journal of the humanities. Based on the journal and archival material, I will explore how the journal’s editors navigated this system of censorship without a censorship authority and how it influenced the journal and its contents. I will equally investigate how the journal participated in a wider movement, involving various forms of published and unpublished material, to widen the country’s literary canon and academic horizon, for which the ZAA’s international visibility and the very form of the scholarly journal provided opportunities and justifications.

Michael Lörch is a researcher and translator based in Strasbourg, France. He recently finished his PhD thesis under the title of The Politics of the Scholarly Journal: The Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik (ZAA) as a Link between Academia, Publishing Industry and Politics. He is currently working on a monograph based on the doctoral research and an article on the Anglophone Press in 19th-century Germany. He worked as research assistant at the Germersheim Campus of the Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz. His fields of interest include periodical studies and the role of politics and economics in modern and contemporary North American literature.

Seminar 2: 19 December 2023, 6pm CET (chair: Aled Jones)

ANDREW KING (University of Greenwich): ‘Beyond the Taxes on Knowledge: the Law and the 1860s English Press’

Summed up in Carlyle’s famous notion of the press as “the Fourth Estate”, discussions of the Law and the British press in the nineteenth century have often been framed in gendered terms of a heroic struggle for freedom from government where opposition to the so-called “Taxes on Knowledge” from the 1830s to 50s has been a focal point. However, regulation of the press is conceptually much more complex than one issue or slogan (however effective such a unifying slogan can be). The laws concerning the press are many and varied, involving diverse actants in a multitude of conflicts on small and large scales: government and legislature (not always identical); owners and managers (again, maybe with different and conflicting aims); workers of many different kinds in manufacturing and distribution; consumers. I shall briefly relate a few case studies concerning some of the remaining legal regulations of the press in the 1860s after the last of the “Taxes on Knowledge” had been repealed in 1861, legal regulations concerning obscenity, libel, copyright, and – very often forgotten altogether – the labour conditions of both printers and distributors.

Andrew King is Professor of English at the University of Greenwich, London. He was the founding editor of Victorian Popular Fictions and is the author or editor of 8 books and many articles on the nineteenth-century press and popular fiction, most recently Work and the Nineteenth-Century Press (2022). He's currently working on a chapter on the global economics of the periodical and a 4-volume collection of annotated primary sources with Marysa Demoor, Andrew Hobbs and Lisa Peters on Geographies of the Press. This seminar paper comes out of a chapter he's written for a volume on the 1860s edited by Pamela Gilbert coming out from CUP in 2024.

ANN HALE (British and Irish Legal Information Institute): ‘Business Matters: Examining Legal Frameworks Underpinning the Periodical Press’

The legal structures underpinning the business entities that make up the periodical press receive little scholarly attention, yet every entity associated with the press takes a particular legal form, and forms can change over time. Reading across single or multiple enterprises can reconceptualize how the press was organized and who participated in it. This presentation suggests an approach for examining legal frameworks and provides an overview of key subjects to keep in mind. Inspired by Linda K. Hughes’s “sideways” approach to print culture, it reads across multiple enterprises, legal entities, and intersecting networks linked to George Newnes (1851–1910), the publisher of influential general-audience periodicals such as Tit-Bits (1881–1985), a penny weekly, and the Strand Magazine (1891–1950), an illustrated monthly. While the example entities are rooted in the common law, Britain, and the 1890s, the approach and underlying concepts are broadly applicable to other jurisdictions and entities. 

Ann M. Hale is an independent scholar and the Executive Director of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII). She completed her PhD at the University of Greenwich in 2020, and her thesis, “Business Matters: Legal Structures, Roles, People, and Places in the Nineteenth-Century Press—A Case Study of George Newnes Limited,” was awarded RSVP’s inaugural 2021 Sally Mitchell Dissertation Prize.

These seminars will be held online. Please register below in order to receive the Zoom link for both sessions.

Registration Periodicals and the Law 2023

Please let us know your name.

Please let us know your email address.

Please let us know your message.

Invalid Input