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Television Histories in Development

On October 2nd 2021 we will celebrate 70 years of television in the Netherlands. While this is a milestone worth celebrating, it also offers an opportunity to look back at the medium’s rich international histories. Television has survived its many predicted deaths and adapted constantly to changing social, cultural and technological trends and demands. We now invite scholars to respond to the call for papers below and contribute to a two-day international conference to further existing debates and reflect on the academic study of television history so far.

On October 2nd 2021 we will celebrate 70 years of television in the Netherlands. While this is a milestone worth celebrating, it also offers an opportunity to look back at the medium’s rich international histories. Television has survived its many predicted deaths and adapted constantly to changing social, cultural and technological trends and demands. We now invite scholars to respond to the call for papers below and contribute to a two-day international conference to further existing debates and reflect on the academic study of television history so far.

Philips TX400

Philips TX400

The conference will be hosted by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, one of the most extensive audio-visual archives in Europe. It will be part of several activities related to the 70-year anniversary of Dutch television.

Organising committee: Professor Huub Wijfjes and Dr Josette Wolthuis.

Call for papers

This conference will offer opportunities to share ideas and exchange research on the medium’s international histories. Scholars of all backgrounds and disciplines are invited to think about the question what role and influence television has had over the last seventy years. The conference seeks to address how television has created its own media logic that has influenced other cultural practices like journalism, sport, politics, theatre and drama, entertainment, youth cultures and education. We invite papers based on academic, preferably historic research about these perspectives. During the conference, we will encourage discussion on the development of the academic discipline of Television Studies from the 1950s until now.

Our conference aims to explore a number of these histories of television in a broad cultural and societal perspective. Suggestions include:

  • What are the ‘big stories’ of television?  Few media have undergone such radical transformations in terms of technology, industry and uses as television in its first century.
  • How has television shaped and changed political rhetoric, sport experiences, youth cultures, fictional narratives, journalistic forms and contents etc. and how has this influenced public and commercial strategies for economic or political organisation of television broadcasting?
  • What role did technological developments and commercial interests play in changing television practices and media landscapes?
  • What sources allow us to understand the big stories – and what sources are still missing? 
  • What voices have been silenced and what actors made invisible in the grand narratives of television?
  • What can exploring television’s various intermedial connections tell us about the specificity of television in relation to other media forms and platforms?
  • What new perspectives on television’s century are offered in the new digital research environment?
  • What challenges and opportunities does the digital sphere offer for alternative new modes of television historical storytelling?

Since we approach television as an international cultural phenomenon and technology that extends beyond the Anglo-American context, we invite scholars from all countries, backgrounds and cultures to apply. We welcome a diverse range of papers from scholars in all stages of their career and strive to create an accessible and inclusive conference environment.

Given the current situation, we would ideally go for a hybrid format according to which some presentations can be held on site and others online, and all presentations and discussions will be livestreamed. The extent to which any talks can be arranged on site depends on how the Covid-19 situation develops. If you already know whether you would like to present your paper online or, if possible, in Hilversum, please indicate your preferences in your proposal.

On the basis of an abstract, authors shall be invited to the conference for a 20-minute paper presentation. Please send abstract proposals of max. 300 words and a short bio to: tvhistoriesconference@gmail.com

Deadline for paper proposals: 1 May 2021.

For questions, please contact the organisers on the abovementioned email address.