How News Spreads: Newspapers as Windows on the World

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Press Release No. 13/2014

20 January 2014

Doctoral students of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” organise conference

How news spreads around the world will be discussed by scholars at a conference at Heidelberg University. From 30 January to 1 February 2014, the topic will be newspapers as “windows on the world,” created by publishers for readers to look through. The approximately 20 participants from cultural and communications studies work with historical publications and their actors throughout the world, such as in China, Great Britain, Nicaragua, Taiwan and the United States. Even the open ocean, where ship newspapers were published, is included. The English-language event, entitled “Newspapers and Transculturality. New Approaches to Working with Historical Newspapers,” was conceived and organised by doctoral students of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”.

Until now, the spread of news has been studied mostly at the national level. We want to open up this field of research and introduce new methods of cross-national newspaper analysis using historical examples,” explains historian Rudolph Ng, one of the conference organisers. One object of research are ship’s newspapers that were published by passengers on long voyages during the 19th century. This task brought together authors from different social milieus and of different nationalities. Another presentation will explore the question of how events in one nation are perceived in the media of other countries, using Adolf Hitler's depiction in Tibetan newspapers as an example. In addition to political and sociocultural subjects, the dissemination of sports news has special significance. The Far Eastern Championship Games – an Olympic-like competition among Asian states at the beginning of the 20th century – are used to illustrate how sports reporting also conveyed the feeling of “modernisation” in society.

The keynote speaker, sinologist Prof. Dr. Rudolf G. Wagner (Heidelberg University and Harvard University), will open the conference with a lecture entitled “Getting the Unfeasible Done: The Study of the Transcultural Flow of News and Opinion”. The presentation at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Voßstraße 2, Building 4400, on Thursday, 30 January 2014, is open to the public and will begin at 6pm. The conference was organised by Rudolph Ng, Anna Sawerthal and Johanna de Schmidt, all working on their dissertations in the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”.

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