Preliminary program


Second Symposium of the Society for Media History


“I have a dream…”

Media, utopia and experiment


Université Paris 2

92 rue d’Assas 75006 Paris




The first edition of the Symposium of the Society for Media History took place on May 26 and 27 2015; it sought to draw up an inventory of institutional and historiographical developments in media history since it first emerged and to explore current themes of study.


In a context of strong criticism of the media, including the accusation of bias – political and economic- this second edition seeks to cross-examine the way in which media, rather, have been the flagship of social change, of how to conceive and fashion another world.


Fifty years after the events of May and June 1968, the Society for Media History invites researchers to reflect on the links between media, utopia and experiments. The call for papers is not solely intended for media historians; it seeks to be a venue for as many different viewpoints and disciplines as possible. The scientific committee will favor proposals based on a corpus or a specific field, illuminating little known aspects of the history of the media or various epistemologies.


Proposals should preferably be placed in one of the following areas:



1 - Alternative Media and Countercultures


The media are often perceived as privileged vectors of mass culture and therefore of mainstream culture. We seek to question alternative media forms which reject or challenge the social order and established cultures, through the quest for another world. Periods of social crisis, in particular, favour innovative and potentially subversive media creations due to activists, professional journalists and sometimes ordinary citizens. Alternative contents and forms may include expressions of minority or avant-garde groups, as well as the practices that produce them, new organizations of work, in tune with a social and political project. In addition, communications may examine forms of circulation between the mass media and alternative media and revisit the notion of counter-culture.



2 – Media and utopia/dystpopia


Media are also privileged channels for diffusion of utopia and dystopia. They give rise to different visions of reality, denunciation of the present, prophetism, doom-mongering, faith in progress, via combinations of fiction, information and political or scientific projects.

Media often give projections of the news in fifty or hundred years time.

How do the media shape this imagined scenario ? How do the media give reality to individual or collective fantasies about possible, desirable or repulsive worlds?

In what historical conditions (war, economic crisis, prosperity), do media feed belief in or fear of the future ?

Since at least the 19th century, technological change in new media give birth to moral panics and dreams of the transformation of society. For instance, the « global village » à la McLuhan regains currency when a new technology of communication and information emerges.

Thus, the internet is seen as a powerful element of the reconfiguration of the public sphere. Its effects on people’s lives attracts attention. It contributes to new forms of social action and activism called « mediactivism ». The web « philosophy » is often linked to the specificity of its technology : the « message » should be within the « medium ». These views about the impact of the media technologies on society are not always new. Proposals about one or different examples of techno-media prophetism will be welcomed.


3 – Technical experiments


Media transformations are often due to a unanticipated use of new technical tools. These innovations have contributed to shape the organization, the contents and the audiences of the media. This section would welcome proposals on technical experiments that generate a new conception of the media, even if they failed. Proposals could, for instance, focus on technologies creating content (the rotary press, the professional video recorder, nagra, or the wirephoto), innovations changing media consumption ( from public libraries to audio cassettes, and from audio cassettes to podcasts), and inventions changing relations with the public (audiences, audience mails, watermarking techniques). Proposals can try to show which media model these experiments create.



4 – Revolutions in the field of media studies


This last topic will focus on the epistemology of media studies. What are the new tools for media research today? Which innovative or alternative research devices are used for media studies to examine content and reception. Proposals may also seek how to conciliate scientific research with political activism in order to change the world.




Each abstract (3000 characters max.) should have a title, an explicit problematic and a short bibliography. No proposal may have more than three authors. The abstracts will be blind peer reviewed.

You may also submit a proposal for a panel on a specific topic (three proposals minimum).

The deadline for submission is November 24. Authors are invited to submit their titles, abstracts and cv electronically on the homepage of the conference:




Practical information


Inscription fees (speakers and audience): member of the French Society for Media History (SPHM) - free. (Membership fee: 25 euros, 13 for students) ; Non-member : 40 euros.

The conference will provide coffee and lunches. Travel and accommodation costs are funded by those who present papers.


Papers will be presented in either English or French. The digitized presentation will be in the other language.




December 7th, 2017 : deadline for proposals

January 15, 2018 : results of the peer-review

May 23-25, 2018 : Conference venue: University Paris 2-Panthéon Assas (92 rue d’Assas, 75006 Paris)


Organization committee


Maëlle Bazin (Université Panthéon-Assas, CARISM)

Alexandre Borrell (Université Paris Est-Créteil, CEDITEC)

Jamil Dakhlia (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, CIM)

Pierre-Emmanuel Guigo (Paris-Est Créteil, CRHEC)

Arielle Haakenstad (Université Panthéon-Assas, CARISM)

Cécile Méadel (Université Panthéon-Assas, CARISM)

Bibia Pavard (Université Panthéon-Assas, CARISM)

Blandine Rousselin (Université Panthéon-Assas, CARISM)

Claire Sécail (CNRS, LCP-IRISSO)

Anna Tible (Paris 13, LabSic)


SPHM website



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