[Sticky] Mobility, circulation, and constraint
In the Closing remarks, above, Barbara invites us to consider the "intimate dance between mobility, circulation, and constraint" as a recurrent theme in the magazines, and critical approaches, explored in Future States. To open our plenary discussion, here is Barbara's question:
What approaches can assist us in attending both to mobility and constraint, equally, and in their relation?
Barbara's comments are really inspiring. Thank you, Barbara!
There's a lot to say about mobility and constraint. One type of material that I like looking at is national publishing laws and international treaties about the circulation of print culture. This legal material tells us something about the conditions/constraints under which magazines were allowed to spread/circulate.
Yes, thank you, Barbara, for these generous and insightful Closing remarks. Lots to think about, indeed!
Mobility: UHU magazine, launched in 1924, was designed by its editors to be “readable in a train journey from Berlin to Hamburg”. So the magazine embodied both the journey and its ideal, middle-class reader.
Thank you, Barbara, for pointing out some key ideas and questions.
In my own work, I certainly think a lot about the meaning of "constraint" and I see the popular periodical as a mechanism for mobility through the creation of stories and essays that stimulate and invite the readers to fantasize. Looking at this tension (being stuck and wanting to move), I think that fantasy can acquire positive connotations, which are not negative escapism but rather intellectual mobility. I like to think of the periodical as a medium that can move within nationalist and dictatorial constraints.
Hello, everybody, and sorry to join in late (as the saying goes in French, comme les carabiniers, the carabiniers, i.e. police-customs officers, being always late, not that I fancy being one of them, but I would have loved to participate earlier…).
A few thoughts on Barbara Green's insightful comment on the inspiring parallel between periodical studies on one hand, space/architectural/oceanic studies on the other. The first two strike me as being a consequence of the way print culture (books and periodicals) has been repeatedly related to buldings over time. This may be through terminology (frontispiece, columns, etc.) but also by metaphors that have shaped categories (the storehouse or magasin category) or simply in naming periodicals (The Studio or The Savoy termed after a hotel). It seems to me that at the bottom of both lies the idea of the periodical as an urban form related to growing movements of populations towards urban centres and the creation of cities. As such, the relation between these fields is less surprising if we think in terms of the historical evolution of the periodical as a form. Conversely, the idea of a parallel between oceanic studies and periodical studies is unexpected and thought-provoking: indeed, what do we do in periodical studies except try to fathom the ocean? Also, when we study periodicals, especially in circulation, we start on a voyage, sometimes perilous, in any case risky, hoping of course for an insightful passage and a safe and sound arrival. Also the third parallel strongly relates to periodicals' circulation since a crossing (material, social, political or other) appears sooner or later. In a nutshell, the third parallel looms as the most challenging but also as a consequence of our changing methodologies in recent times.
Thank you, Barbara, for drawing attention to Circulation, a key term for many of us, and the methodological questions it raises. We have addressed some of these issues in L’Europe des revues II. Réseaux et circulation des modèles [The Europe of Reviews II. Networks and the Circulation of Models] (Paris, PUPS, 2018, 42 contributions, 985 p., 150 ill.]. The volume is in French and bulky, but I hope useful.
In dealing with some of the issues, particularly how to fathom Circulation, we had to address Pierre Bourdieu’s famous theory of fields, a model of description relevant when it comes to dominant figures or positions, with positive content, instituting laws, but more problematic when dealing with periodicals in their variety. We followed on research by Belgian scholars on networks (particularly Paul Aron et Benoît Denis, ‘Réseaux et institution faible’, in Les Réseaux littéraires, Daphné de Marneffe & Benoît Denis eds., Bruxelles, Le Cri/Ciel-ULB-Ulg, 2006, p. 7-18, and ConTextes, n° 4 (2008), online http://contextes.revues.org/2983 ), on how to study Belgian periodicals (considered as peripheral to French ones).
It appeared that network analysis related to circulation could be an instrument more adapted to dependent or dominated literary forms (peripheral, regional, marginal or paraliterary), often poor in symbolic capital. The network, a empirical, exploratory and flexible model, would thus adapt better to more blurred forms of relatedness and structuring, because it allows us to suspend pre-construed (or pre-interpreted) categories of the perception of literature, art, social or political questions. It also brings forward relational dynamics providing we do not link it only to men (as traditionally done), but extend it to relations between forms, ideas and periodical agency; to circulation and transmission of literary creations, ideas, graphic and typographic models; and to relations between commercial forces on one hand and aesthetic and literary configurations on the other.
I would love to know your thoughts on all this.