Future States: a nearly carbon-neutral conference

23 March – 5 April 2020

WELCOME to Future States, an international academic conference exploring the culture of popular magazines in the first half of the twentieth century. With presentations from leading historians in the field of magazine studies, the conference captures the distinct and intertwined histories of periodicals from across the world, in the era of mass modernity.

Hosted by the Centre for Design History, University of Brighton, Future States is a nearly carbon-neutral conference (NCNC), a new kind of research event built on the capacities of digital technology, and shaped by our present-day environmental consciousness. The event brings together a worldwide community of scholars, including presenters from 15 countries; but we are gathering here, online, rather than in a physical venue at the university, achieving a reduction of more than 95% in GHG emissions, compared to conventional fly-in conferences.

Future States includes the typical elements of academic conferences – keynote addresses, panels, Q&As, abstracts, notice boards, a publications rack and contacts list – but there are no air flights, train journeys, hotel bookings, or conference packs. And no registration fee: attendance at Future States is free, and open to all.

For an introduction to the conference, see below.

TO REGISTER, click on the blue button. We look forward to meeting you in the conference foyer!

Page spread, "VU in the land of the Soviets", 18 Nov 1931. © Musée Nicéphore Niépce

Future States: Modernity and national identity in popular magazines, 1890-1945

In the early decades of the twentieth century, ideals of technological modernity and American consumerism had a normative influence on cultures across the globe: magazines in Europe, the US, Latin America, and Asia, inflected a shared internationalism and technological optimism. But there were equally powerful countervailing influences, of patriotic or insurgent nationalism, and of traditionalism, that promoted values of cultural differentiation. Future States explores these dialectical constructions of ideal modernity in the magazines of different countries, exploring how national cultures drew on – or resisted – currents in international modernism, and also informed and constituted this global culture.

The conference theme is developed in 35 online talks, capturing the diverse, evolving print cultures of countries across the world, their disparities and mutual connections. Topics include the Soviet satirical magazine Krokodil, the German communist supplement Der Roter Stern, and the Rizzoli periodicals of fascist Italy; panels explore the magazine cultures of North America and Europe, Britain and Australia, Mexico and Peru, Turkey, Iran, and the Soviet Turkic states. Among these titles are many that are not well known; Future States draws together an extraordinary array of new topics and lines of enquiry, offering a vision of what Partha Mitter calls the “decentred” modernism of the global twentieth century. Full details of the conference programme, and presentation abstracts, will be published shortly.

Future States runs from 23 March to 5 April 2020. Presentations are recorded in advance, and will be published on the site in a series of panels and keynotes over the two weeks of the conference. Participants can view these presentations at their leisure, and contribute to Q&A discussions throughout the live fortnight; the site will also feature multiple further resources for the research community, including comprehensive links to global research centres, institutes and archives, and a noticeboard of future events and calls-for-papers. After 5 April, when the conference closes, the website contents, including video presentations and Q&A threads, will be maintained as a permanent online record of the conference proceedings.