“Forcible Evidence: The Periodical Press, the Public, and State Violence”
In recent years, Victorian scholars have given renewed attention to the periodical press and extra-literary modes of communication. Thanks to technological improvements in printing and circulation, the Victorian era saw a significant expansion in the quantity of periodicals and newspapers available to a growing and multifaceted public. As a result, Victorians like Matthew Arnold were anxious about the effect of the new periodical press on the amorphous public and a weakening of state and social authority and coherence, both domestically and abroad. Of course, newspapers could (and did) support state authority as well as oppose it. So how did the press mold readers’ opinions and actions in the guise of delivering information? In what ways did the diverse form(s) of the periodical press shape and present evidence, ultimately influencing what Wilkie Collins called “the Unknown Public?” Specifically, how did justifications for state violence compare to the independent trials performed in the periodical press, and how did the press redefine what counted as evidence for the English reading public?
This panel seeks papers that investigate the role of the periodical press in presenting, shaping, and defining the public and its understanding of the disciplinary role of the state. Papers may address such issues as: What is the newspaper’s treatment of disciplinary violence? What counts as evidence of force, and what counts as forcible evidence? What is the relationship between the newspaper and state methods of control and punishment, including torture, imprisonment, and capital punishment? What is the role of the newspaper in defining the limits of official violence used in colonial spaces? How does the press depict state-sanctioned suffering and the appropriate response of the public to these scenes?
Please submit abstracts of 500 words and a one-page CV by February 25, 2013 to Katherine Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Panel subject to approval.