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Literary Journalism in Times of Crisis and Transition (1870-1970)


A one-day interdisciplinary conference

Literary Journalism in Times of Crisis and Transition


  University of Warwick, 26th November 2016

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Susan Greenberg (University of Roehampton, London)

David Walker (University of Sheffield)

Conference Programme (PDF Document)
Please register here

Literary journalism, also known as ‘narrative journalism’, is a form of creative nonfiction that draws on the research methods of journalism and the storytelling techniques and literary style of narrative. Throughout its history, it has been shaped as a genre by transnational and cross-cultural influences, and it has assumed as many variations as the countries and printing traditions in which it has blossomed.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to investigate the role played by literary journalism in capturing historical and social changes on a global scale over the time span of a century, from the 1870s to the 1970s.

The 1870s witnessed events that had a far-reaching impact on the course of history to follow and defined narrative journalism throughout the late 19th century in Europe and beyond. As readers and journalists alike seek to make sense of their individual role and place in a continuously transforming historical reality, narrative nonfiction can be seen as an attempt to answer such concerns. The struggle assumes a character of urgency as the turn of the century nears, while the accompanying technological innovations of the Second Industrial revolution reshape the perception of time and space. Having radically transformed the communication system, these developments pave the way for a variety of new formal and conceptual journalistic approaches: industrialised journalism; New Journalism (1890s); photo-journalism; published interviews; the rise of the figures of news agency reporters and foreign correspondents.

The two World Wars, the post-war economic booms across Europe and beyond, the rise of mass consumerism, social reforms, and, last but not least, the radical cultural changes of the mid-20th century, all offer a fertile ground for the development of narrative nonfiction. We choose to limit the time span of the analysis to the 1970s considering that the instatement of television as a primary player in the domain of media and communication arguably relayed print literary journalism as a reporting style with its long-standing tradition, at least temporarily, into the background.


Organised by Sara Boezio and Giulia Brecciaroli, School of Modern Languages and Cultures - University of Warwick.

Funded by HRC, RSSP, and the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (University of Warwick).