Call for Papers: Media Building: Architecture, Communications and the Built Environment, from Fleet Street to Facebook. University of Salford, MediaCityUK, 8-9 July 2020

In 1702 Elizabeth Mallett founded the Daily Courant at her modest bookshop on Fleet Street in London. Two centuries later, the street had become the spatial nerve center for a range of local, national and international networks of communication that were replicated on “newspaper rows” across the globe. As media influence grew, so too did the size and scale of its buildings, with American publisher Joseph Pulitzer contending that ‘a newspaper plant…should be something to be gaped at.’ Structures such as Pulitzer’s own New York World building, the striking neo-gothic spires of the Chicago Tribune tower, and the sleek art-deco exteriors of the Daily Express buildings in London and Manchester offered their own expressions of media power, modernity, and the aesthetics of mass communication, providing what Aurora Wallace describes as a “definable shape…a hook on which to hang some news about the media itself.”

This conference, located at the heart of MediaCityUK, invites contributions which explore the intersections between media culture, architecture, and the built environment. The conference is interested in the relationship between media content and media space, and the ways in which this relationship has changed over time. What would press barons such as Pulitzer, who saw their buildings as “the central and highest point(s) of New World Civilization”, have made of Facebook’s Menlo Park Campus; an arguably more impressive yet radically different vision of media power, sophistication, and influence? How might publishers such as Lord Beaverbrook, the ‘first baron of Fleet Street’, have reacted to its decline and dispersal during the latter decades of the twentieth century? More broadly, how have media buildings – both real and imagined – informed and given form to a range of sociopolitical, cultural and ideological constructs, becoming a “delivery mechanism” for ideas about objectivity, authority and identity? And what can the past and future of media architecture tell us about the changing nature of media production, distribution and consumption in the twenty-first century?

Potential topics and case studies could include:

  • The history and impact of the “newspaper row” (Fleet Street; Park Row; Picayune Place; etc)
  • Media power, message and the modern skyscraper (China Media Group HQ, Beijing; the New York Times building, ‎Manhattan; Der Spiegel building, Hamburg; etc)
  • Media cities and mediated cities (Facebook Menlo Park Campus, Silicon Valley; MediaCity, Salford Quays; Media City Park, Dubai; etc)
  • Media spaces in popular culture (Superman and the Daily Planet; Spiderman and the Daily Bugle; representations of the newsroom and media buildings in films such as Spotlight, etc)
  • Liminal spaces, private architectures, media publics (blogging and the coffee shop; radical media and the built environment; media cultures in the ‘post-newsroom’ age; etc)
  • Reuse, relocation, and the afterlife of media architecture (the Daily Express building, Manchester; the Tribune building, Chicago; BBC/Channel 4 move from London to the North, etc)
  • The relationship between media building design and professional ideologies of journalism/newswork (soft power and media architecture; the ‘newsroom’ as a social and cultural construct; etc)
  • Race, Ethnicity and Media Buildings (the Defender building, Chicago; the Daily Forward building, New York; etc)
  • Media architecture and the end of empire (Times of India building, Mumbai; National Media Group, Nairobi; Broadcasting House, London; etc)

Abstracts of no more than 400 words should be sent to conference organizers Carole O’Reilly c.oreilly@salford.ac.uk and E. James West james.west@northumbria.ac.uk no later than 16 December 2019.

For more information, please visit the conference website.

A limited number of travel awards are available to subsidize conference attendance by PGRs, ECRs and temporary faculty. To be considered please submit an estimate of travel expenses with your abstract.

 

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