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Personal small ads in the contemporary press (18th-20th century)

Les petites annonces personnelles dans la presse contemporaine (XVIIIe-XXe siècle)

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Published on Monday, November 13, 2017 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

This colloquium aims to bring historians and scholars from related disciplines together to engage collectively with the personal ad, considered both as object and as source, from the second half of the eighteenth century through the first half of the twentieth. While the focus will be on the French press, comparative perspectives are welcome.

Announcement

Argument

The personal ad, increasingly replaced by social media platforms and diverse forms of virtual communication today, was long a vital part of the French media landscape. In spite of the bad reputation held by advertising in France, where it was associated with charlatanism until well into the twentieth century, the nineteenth century nonetheless saw the expansion of personal advertising in papers of all kinds. These ads provided the press with an important source of revenue and provided readers with an unprecedented site for encounter, communication, and exchange. By nature, personal advertising holds a singular place both in the history of the press and the history of advertising: these ads operate on the margins or outside of journalistic discourses, and are often just as interested in facilitating personal communication as material consumption. In the back pages, then, we find a form of writing that is at once personal and public, where intimacy is paradoxically, but integrally, meant to be exposed.

Long neglected by historians, personal ads are an incredibly rich source for a wide variety of fields of research on the modern period, which was marked by the expansion of printed periodicals into the daily lives of ordinary people. Personal ads offer a privileged access point to what Georges Perec calls the “infra- ordinary” of a society and have much to tell us about the development of new ways of meeting and interacting with people in a consumer society where interpersonal relationships are continually shaped and reshaped by the market. We see personal advertisements as largely unmined resources for understanding otherwise invisible, but nonetheless crucial, dynamics at work in histories of media(s), labor, business, consumption, gender, sexuality, everyday life, etc.

This colloquium aims to bring historians and scholars from related disciplines together to engage collectively with the personal ad, considered both as object and as source, from the second half of the eighteenth century through the first half of the twentieth. While the focus will be on the French press, comparative perspectives are welcome.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Classified Marketplace : We are interested in thinking about the classified marketplace ands its personal ads in two interconnected but distinct ways. On one hand, it is important that we understand the economic importance of the classifieds for the finances of various newspapers. On the other, such an inquiry should not overshadow the investigation of the transactions that took place between advertisers and readers in this market space that operated through person-to-person interactions.
  • Coded Reading : Between Signifier and Signified : We are also interested in thinking with Philippe Artières about classified ads as “miettes,” or crumbs, that have “the capacity to record low-intensity events,2” which serve as “traces of a period that are fading from memory and without which, however, nothing is intelligible.”1 How, though, are we to make sense of these precious crumbs, which are not only fragmentary but also written in a coded language that operates in the interstices between the said and the unsaid? What interpretive strategies did readers use to interpret these texts? How do we write a history of that which is implicit? 
  • Public Privacy : Personal ads intricately interweave anonymity and intimacy. They constitute a privileged vantage point from which to write the histories of gender and sexuality, but, given the uniquely public nature of these personal sources, the particularity of this intimate expression must be theorized. We are interested in thinking through how advertisers stage their intimate selves for a wide public in the back pages of newspapers as well as thinking through what we should take away from these singular, ephemeral little texts that have once again become accessible (and thus their privacy once again made public) thanks to the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s digitization projects.

Submission guidelines

Please send a 300-word proposal and a short bio

before December 30, 2017

to : hannah.frydman@rutgers.edu, and claire-lise.gaillard@Univ-Paris1.fr 

Scientific Committee

  • Dominique Kalifa, Professeur à l’Université Paris 1
  • Marie-Eve Thérenty , Professeur à l’Université Montpellier III
  • Philipe Artières, directeur de recherches au CNRS
  • Claire-Lise Gaillard, doctorante contractuelle à l’Université Paris 1
  • Hannah Frydman, Phd Stutend à Rutgers University

Places

  • Maison de la Recherche - 28 rue Serpente
    Paris, France (75)

Date(s)

  • Saturday, December 30, 2017

Keywords

  • petite annonce, presse, genre, travail

Contact(s)

  • Dominique Kalifa
    courriel : Dominique [dot] Kalifa [at] univ-paris1 [dot] fr
  • Claire-Lise Gaillard
    courriel : claire-lise [dot] gaillard [at] Univ-Paris1 [dot] fr
  • Hannah Frydman
    courriel : hannah [dot] frydman [at] rutgers [dot] edu

Information source

  • Claire-Lise Gaillard
    courriel : claire-lise [dot] gaillard [at] Univ-Paris1 [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Personal small ads in the contemporary press (18th-20th century) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, November 13, 2017, http://calenda.org/418672