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Article

The Black Press  

Kim Gallon

The term “Black Press” is an umbrella term that includes a diverse set of publications that include a small number of religious and mostly secular magazines and newspapers published by Black people in the United States from 1827 to the present. While religious newspapers are an integral part of the Black Press cultural tradition, of particular interest is how papers outside of formal Black religious dominations and institutions negotiated their self-defined racial uplift mission with their desire to attract readers to purchase and read newspapers. This focus does not deny the tremendous significance of Black religious print culture and the role it played in conveying African American cultural expression. Nineteenth-century religious papers like the Christian Recorder (1852–) were instrumental to the publication of early Black literature. Focusing on a small number of religious publications, then, provides a window into how they worked in conjunction with secular newspapers to define Black life in the United States. A newspaper is defined as “Black” if the publisher and principal editor or editors characterized themselves as such. Immigrant and foreign-language Black newspapers published in the United States were closer to the immigrant press. The history of the Black Press in the United States is simultaneously rooted in uplift and protest against racial injustice. Two Black abolitionists—Presbyterian minister Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm, one of the nation’s first African American college graduates—created the first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, in 1827 to promote self-help and respond to anti-Black attacks in white papers. The first issue of Freedom’s Journal famously related the sentiments of its founders: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations in things which concern us dearly.” Indeed, Cornish and Russwurm’s statements define close to 200 years of Black journalism that created the necessary political and social space for African Americans to recover their humanity. Despite the significant role the Black Press has and continues to play, to some degree, the cultural history of the Black Press is underexamined relative to the emphasis that historians place on the race advocacy and protest mission of African American newspapers. Close examination reveals that the Black Press’s power lay not only in its capacity to assert the rights and humanity of Black people through agitation but also in the ways it reinforced and amplified the unique and lively culture of African Americans. To this end, the Black Press created a countercultural public of Black peoples’ image and identity that was equally instrumental in refuting the discrimination they faced in American society.

Article

Copyright and the Commodification of Authorship in 18th- and 19th-Century Europe  

Maurizio Borghi

The modern concept of authorship evolved in parallel with the legal recognition of the author as the subject of certain property rights within the marketplace for books. Such a market was initially regulated by a system of printing privileges, which was replaced by copyright laws at the juncture of the 18th and 19th centuries. The inclusion of copyright under the umbrella of property and the dominating economic discourse marked the naissance of a new figure of the author, namely, the author as supplier of intellectual labor to the benefit of society at large. In this sense, products of authorship became fully fledged commodities to be exchanged in the global marketplace. Focusing on the transition between the privilege and the copyright systems, and the prevailing economic rationale for the protection of works of authorship, leads to a more original understanding of authorship as rooted in the human need for reciprocal communication for the sake of truth. Modern authorship, being grounded in a narrow utilitarian understanding of authors’ rights, is detached from both the economic logic of the privilege system and the rational foundation of copyright.

Article

Late 19th-Century Latina/o Letters: A Heterogeneous Archive  

Anita Huizar-Hernández

Though the 19th century witnessed the creation of new nations throughout the Americas, late-19th-century Latina/o writing in many respects defies national borders and boundaries. From exiles and immigrants to conquered populations living within the ever-expanding reach of the United States, Latinas/os in the latter part of the century often invoked a transnational and hemispheric perspective in their writing that reflected the border-crossing scope of their experience. From New Orleans to New York to New Mexico, late-19th-century Latina/o writing comprises a heterogeneous archive that is geographically, linguistically, politically, and culturally diverse. Though many texts continued to be written in Spanish, some texts in English began to emerge. The authors of these texts came from a wide variety of racial and class backgrounds, in some cases pursuing cross-racial and cross-class alliances via their writings while in other cases defending their claims to an upper-class white racial identity. Despite this diversity, by the end of the century Latina/o writers of all backgrounds were increasingly subject to marginalization as racialized others within mainstream US society. Many Latina/o texts from this period have been recovered from archives, edited, and republished for contemporary audiences. Scholars of this literature are necessarily involved in the recovery of texts that have been overlooked in private, regional, university, and national archives throughout the Americas. The deep fragmentation of this body of work speaks to the border-crossing nature of late-19th-century Latina/o writing, as well as to the dynamism of a field whose objects of study are constantly expanding and consequently shifting the terrain of what such writing might mean.

Article

Understanding Communication Through a Historical Lens  

Clark Callahan

Historical emergences of new communications technologies have had a dramatic impact on the structures of international contact. While these advances come in many forms, they all affect the ecology of international communications. Some forms of advances, such as the physical, are often overlooked and perhaps even trivialized. Advances like the stirrup and hay allowed increased movements, often in the form of conquests that brought disparate people and cultures into physical contact. Intellectual advancements such as the scientific method, mathematics like calculus and trigonometry, Copernicus’s heliocentrism, and Darwin’s theory of evolution bridged international boundaries through the formation and maintenance of international academic communities.

Article

wine, Greek and Roman  

Dimitri van Limbergen

Grape cultivation reached Greece towards the end of the 3rd millennium bce, and Italy around the beginning of the 1st millennium bce. From the 8th century bce onward, systematic viticulture expanded, and wine became deeply embedded in Greco-Roman society at all levels. It was the beverage of choice for both the wealthy and the poor, a major intoxicant in the ancient world, and an essential source of energy in the daily diet. Wine was widely used in religion, feasts, and medicine, and was considered a key marker of civilized culture. Combined with the vine’s high productive potential and its low agronomic needs, all this made wine a primary feature of the agrarian economy and an important product of (inter)national trade. Literature, iconography, and archaeology sketch a picture of significant Greek and Roman realizations in vine-growing techniques and winemaking technology, thus testifying to a level of scientific expertise unmatched until the 19th century. The consumption of wine was stratified and diversified, with the market divided between premium vintages for the rich, ordinary wines for the masses, and winery drinks for the lower classes.

Article

Academic Optimism  

Martinette V. Horner, Derrick D. Jordan, and Kathleen M. Brown

Academic optimism was developed in 2006 as a latent concept that provides insight into the improvement of student outcomes especially for those who, because of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other demographics, have historically been labeled as underperforming. The three main components of academic optimism (academic emphasis, collective emphasis, and faculty trust) underscore the reality that the teachers, parents, and students all play a critical role in the education arena when it comes to ensuring that students fully grow and stretch to the fullest extent possible. High academic optimism in a school suggests that academic achievement is valued and supported; the faculty has the capacity to help students achieve; and students and parents can be trusted as partners of the school for student achievement. Each of these can be controlled by the actions and decisions of school leaders and faculty so that schools can overcome the effects of poverty on student achievement.

Article

Understanding China’s News Media in Historical Perspective  

Sei Jeong Chin

The Chinese media has been discussed either as a challenge to the authoritarian regime or as an instrument to consolidate state power in the recent debates concerning the impact of the Internet and the expansion of social media on China’s authoritarian rule. Both views have adopted the framework that was developed out of the liberal model of media in the West. In the liberal model, the news media should go through full-flown commercialization to achieve autonomy and independence from the state. The independence of the news media from the state is the precondition for the news media’s role as watchdog of the state and check on the government. However, the liberal model does not fit the actual historical experiences of the news media in China. Throughout the 20th century, state control of the media expanded in the context of state-building, war, and revolution. The Chinese media did not go through full-flown commercialization to the extent that the media would achieve complete independence from the state. Rather, in the context of state expansion, the media and the state became interdependent rather than antagonistic. In the state-dominated environment, the media did not necessarily seek independence from the state. Nevertheless, even without independence, the media can still play a significant political role within the limits and boundaries set by the state. This has important implications for understanding the resilience of the contemporary Chinese government.

Article

Climate Change Communication in Israel  

Hillel Nossek

Given its location between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert, it seems Israel would be aware of the potential risks of climate change, especially given its lack of natural fossil resources, among other factors. Its location might have led to a greater emphasis on adaptation than mitigation and for climate change communication to flow from all relevant agents, utilized by the ingenuity of this hi-tech nation toward adaptation solutions. However, tracking the development of climate change policy and action leads to the conclusion that climate change is not at the top of Israel’s agenda, due to factors ranging from defense to the neoliberal economy. This article presents some background history of climate change activism and policy development in Israel. It considers the relevant Israeli context that was the bedrock of climate change policy and activity. It also reviews the communicative activity of the relevant agents, including the government, parliament, scientists, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the media, and the public at large, and examines climate change on the public’s agenda as it was presented by the media and reflected in public opinion polls, especially around global climate change events initiated by the United Nations (UN) from Bali (2007) to Paris (2015). Climate change communication in Israel is primarily practiced within the environmental communication field and less so in the science communication field. Communication about climate change is fairly benign compared to the war and terror that are part of everyday life in Israel. Only in the 1970s did environmental communication emerge in various media channels and was placed on the public’s agenda, while climate change communication specifically began to gain salience slowly only in the first decade of the 21st century. Mass media coverage of climate change in Israel is generally quite low compared to other developed countries in the West, with new media channels partially used by interested nongovernmental organizations and individual activists. From time to time, media events organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and world summits on climate change that involve mainly local political interests serve to increase coverage and raise public interest. As in other countries, coverage is usually local rather than global, even though climate change is a global problem. How effective is climate change communication in Israel? Research has only partially answered this question. It seems that the legacy of low media coverage contributes to the low salience of climate change on the governmental and public agendas. Moreover, the atmosphere of uncertain risks and outcomes for Israel has not created a climate of urgency for policymakers.

Article

Freedom of the Press  

Sam Lebovic

According to the First Amendment of the US Constitution, Congress is barred from abridging the freedom of the press (“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”). In practice, the history of press freedom is far more complicated than this simple constitutional right suggests. Over time, the meaning of the First Amendment has changed greatly. The Supreme Court largely ignored the First Amendment until the 20th century, leaving the scope of press freedom to state courts and legislatures. Since World War I, jurisprudence has greatly expanded the types of publication protected from government interference. The press now has broad rights to publish criticism of public officials, salacious material, private information, national security secrets, and much else. To understand the shifting history of press freedom, however, it is important to understand not only the expansion of formal constitutional rights but also how those rights have been shaped by such factors as economic transformations in the newspaper industry, the evolution of professional standards in the press, and the broader political and cultural relations between politicians and the press.

Article

Public Relations in Health and Risk Communication  

John Lynch

Research on public relations (PR) in health and risk message design and processing is a small but persistent area of publication within the broader fields of science/health journalism, health communication, and public understanding of science. PR scholars define their field as the creation of two-way communication that emphasizes understanding of the organization’s position among stakeholders like journalists or the general public. In health, medicine, and science, PR is understood to be a bridge between scientists or scientific organizations and journalists, who tell scientific stories to the public. Most studies of science-related PR emphasize that it encourages a positive perception of science in general and scientists or scientific organizations in particular. This emphasis on a positive image for the scientific organization leads to mistrust of PR professionals by journalists. PR in health, medicine, and science consists of two areas. The first involves crisis PR, where the PR professional works to either prevent or respond to an emergency situation. This begins with environmental scanning and then creating plans to anticipate potential crises by considering ongoing political, social, environmental, and technological developments. The second area consists of science popularization, where the PR office provides journalists with story ideas and information that they can use to write their stories. Much of this information is provided in the form of press releases. Research has shown that press releases increase the amount of coverage of scientific and medical findings, and scholars are examining the ways in which press releases contribute to journalistic reportage and the situations in which the efforts of PR offices are frustrated.

Article

Press Subsidies  

Mart Ots and Robert G. Picard

Due to its function as a watchdog or fourth estate in democratic societies and a variety of commercial challenges, policy-makers have undertaken initiatives to support the production and distribution of news. Press subsidies are one such policy initiative that particularly aims to provide support to private news producers. Paid as direct cash handouts or indirect reduced taxes and fees, they exist in some form in almost every country in the world. Subsidies are not uncontroversial, their effectiveness is unclear, and their magnitude, designs, and areas of application, differ across nations and their unique economic, cultural, and political contexts. After periods of declining political and public interest in media subsidies, the recent economic crisis of journalism, and the rising influence of various forms of click-bait, fake, native, or biased news on social media platforms, has brought state support of original journalism back on the agenda.

Article

The Independent Media of New Zealand  

Linda Jean Kenix

New Zealand has high global measures for press freedom, democracy, and wealth. Historically, if a country has had strong index rankings for press freedom, democracy, and wealth, they also have a robust independent media system. However, that has not been the case in New Zealand where the independent media is lacking, despite the fact the country ranks extremely highly for press freedom, democracy, and wealth. The lack of a robust independent media in New Zealand may be due to five unique reasons: the small size of the country, the reliance on international news, a wariness toward the entire media landscape, the reserved culture of New Zealand, and the flood of content online.

Article

Challenges to Press Freedom in India  

Kalyani Chadha and Sachin Arya

Since the late 1990s, the news media landscape in India has experienced widespread and arguably transformative shifts that are manifest in the explosive growth of media outlets and consumption at both national and regional levels. As of 2021, the country has over 100,000 registered periodicals and newspapers, with 17,000 dailies that report a combined circulation of over 240 million copies according to government data, as well as an estimated 400 news and current affairs channels and numerous news-related websites. Yet despite the existence of a seemingly dynamic and expansive news landscape, many observers have expressed significant concerns about the independence of the Fourth Estate in the world’s largest democracy. According to the annual World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the media watchdog group Reporters without Borders, India has experienced a steady decline in press freedom since 2015, slipping from a position of 135/180 in 2015 to 140/180 in 2019, and 142 in the 2020 report. At present, India ranks behind most of its neighbors, including Afghanistan (122), Bhutan (67), Nepal (112), and Sri Lanka (127). Thus, even though the writers of India’s constitution clearly recognized the right to the freedom of the press as an essential part of the freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and this right has generally been upheld in court, the space for the free expression of views and critique by the press—widely recognized as crucial to democratic functioning—has been shrinking consistently in the Indian context due to a variety of threats ranging from physical violence and intimidation of journalists, and government pressure on news outlets to structural economic forces.

Article

Media and Democracy from a European Perspective  

Hannu Nieminen

There is no immediate or absolute relationship between the media and democracy in the sense that, without media, there could be no democracy. Similarly, it does not follow that with the (modern) media comes democracy. Autocracies exist wherein the media supports a political system, and likewise, democracies exist wherein the media works to undermine a political system. However, most often the media and democracy are viewed as supporting each other. This connection is the product of a long historical development, one peculiar to European (and North American) societies, involving not only institutions and practices directly linked to the media-based and democratic processes, but numerous other institutions (such as education, the political system, religion, etc.) as well. The media are not the only institutions that promote (or do not promote) democratic legitimacy. Other major institutions of such influence include education, religion, public authority, cultural institutions, and political systems, among others. From a wider societal viewpoint, the role of the media is rather reduced in influence. If, for example, an education system is based on ethnic or other forms of segregation, or if there is widespread religious intolerance, or if public authority suffers from corruption, it is obvious that the media has only so many resources to encourage systemic legitimacy. The fundamental interrelatedness of different social institutions makes it difficult, or even impossible, to study the media as a phenomenon isolated from the rest of society. For this reason, we should be careful when making comparisons between the media in different countries, even the media outlets within liberal democracies. In addition, there is no consensus as to the right balance of media and other social institutions in a democracy. Throughout the history of democracy, the relations between institutions (the political system, economy, media, and civil society) have undergone renegotiations and adjustments during times of crisis. Over the past few decades, this relationship appears to have reached a new crisis, one that continues to this day and still lacks a clear solution. In many countries, civil society–based media reform movements have been established with clear goals to further democratize media systems. One of the key arguments of these movements has centered on the contradiction between the constitutional obligations of democratic countries and the reality that, in practice, these rights do not apply equally to all. There remain major differences today between different social groups in terms of open access to and the unrestricted availability of information, the ability to utilize information according to one’s needs, having a voice represented by decision-makers, and respect for privacy and personal integrity.

Article

Accountability in Journalism  

Susanne Fengler

In the past decade, academic and professional debates about media accountability have spread around the globe – but have done so in a fundamentally different framework. In many Western democracies, trust in media – along with trust in politics and trust in institutions – as eroded dramatically. Fundamental shifts regarding the patterns of media use and the structure of media and revenue markets have made media and journalism more exposed to criticism from various stakeholders, and more vulnerable to the strategic influence of national and international actors. While many “Western” media professionals have reacted to these challenges to its credibility by new initiatives to demonstrate accountability and transparency, policy makers in other countries even in the “Global North” have tightened their grip on independent media and gradually weakened the concept of self-control. At the same time, an ongoing democratization in many parts of the world, along with a de-regulation of media markets, has created a growing demand for self-regulation and media accountability in countries formerly characterized by rigid press control. Claude-Jean Bertrand defined the development and current structures of accountability in journalism as “any non-State means of making media responsible towards the public.” Key aims of media accountability are “to improve the services of the media to the public; restore the prestige of media in the eyes of the population; diversely protect freedom of speech and press; obtain, for the profession, the autonomy that it needs to play its part in the expansion of democracy and the betterment of the fate of mankind.” Journalists and news outlets have a wide array of responses to professional, public, and political criticisms via press councils, ombudsmen, media criticism, and digital forms of media accountability, while online and offline media accountability instruments have distinct traditions in different media systems and journalism cultures.

Article

Authoritarian Societies and Journalism  

Marius Dragomir

In spite of journalism’s transnational nature, there is no common history of the subject and thus no common history of journalism in authoritarian societies, a field which can only be studied by bringing together historical facts about journalism in societies that experienced authoritarian regimes at some point in their history. Journalism in authoritarian societies is closely linked with forms of manipulation and censorship. While censorship is older than journalism, it was the rise of journalism as a profession that prompted authoritarian states to develop fully fledged censorship mechanisms and systems. The first forms of censorship of the printed word were introduced by the Catholic Church shortly after the printing press was invented in the 16th century. But it was from the 17th century on that censorship models aimed at controlling the emergent periodical press were created by absolutist monarchies. Secular institutions gradually took over censorship from the church, developing a more complex control system that would methodically check on the printed information distributed widely to the general public. While censorship systems were scrapped in most of Europe for a short period during the 19th century, the following century saw the rise of more sophisticated and repressive forms of censorship. They were developed by fascist dictatorships in several European countries and by the Soviet system in Russia. These models, particularly the Soviet propaganda system, influenced a spate of authoritarian regimes in communist nations all over the globe during the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s sounded the death knell of a series of authoritarian regimes, heralding an era of press freedom and independent journalism. But many regimes, particularly in the former Soviet Union, soon revived old authoritarian practices to keep their people under control. In spite of the limitations on journalistic coverage in authoritarian societies, journalists reacted in various ways to all sorts of authoritarian practices, ranging from harsh censorship systems to less intrusive, yet effective, controlling mechanisms. They did so either by seizing opportunities that appeared during more relaxed political times or by developing circumvention tools that allowed them to reach out to their audiences. The rise of the Internet brought about new opportunities for journalism to reach and engage audiences, as governments struggle to push back by designing new forms of control and censorship.

Article

How Libel Law Applies to Automated Journalism  

Jonathan Peters

Automated journalism—the use of algorithms to translate data into narrative news content—is enabling all manner of outlets to increase efficiency while scaling up their reporting in areas as diverse as financial earnings and professional baseball. With these technological advancements, however, come serious risks. Algorithms are not good at interpreting or contextualizing complex information, and they are subject to biases and errors that ultimately could produce content that is misleading or false, even libelous. It is imperative, then, to examine how libel law might apply to automated news content that harms the reputation of a person or an organization. Conducting that examination from the perspective of U.S. law, because of its uniquely expansive constitutional protections in the area of libel, it appears that the First Amendment would cover algorithmic speech—meaning that the First Amendment’s full supply of tools and principles, and presumptions would apply to determine if particular automated news content would be protected. In the area of libel, the most significant issues come under the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the libelous content was published by the defendant (with a focus on whether automated journalism would qualify for immunity available to providers of interactive computer services) and that the content was published through the defendant’s fault (with a focus on whether an algorithm could behave with the actual malice or negligence usually required to satisfy this inquiry). There is also a significant issue under the opinion defense, which provides broad constitutional protection for statements of opinion (with a focus on whether an algorithm itself is capable of having beliefs or ideas, which generally inform an opinion).

Article

Libel and Defamation in Journalism  

Andrew T. Kenyon

Defamation law seeks to reconcile protecting reputation and free speech, which has long made it significant for journalism. Common law systems have taken three broad approaches to the reconciliation: the traditional law protected reputation strongly; U.S. law became much more protective of speech from the 1960s on; and more recently, most other common law jurisdictions have protected speech slightly more. Civil law systems differ in many details from the common law: the relationship between defamation and privacy is generally stronger; criminal defamation is the standard action; and litigation is comparatively speedy. Overall, however, civil defamation laws in Europe have broad parallels with many common law countries outside the United States. Varied approaches exist across Africa, Asia, and South America, with some jurisdictions having much more restrictive defamation laws in practice. In almost all instances, it remains possible for powerful interests to use defamation law strategically against critics to try to manage their reputations. Traditional defamation law has often been said to have a “chilling effect” on speech where public interest stories are not published because of fear of defamation liability. As public debate has become more valued in many societies, defamation law has evolved to protect more speech and lessen the chilling effect. The most dramatic change has been to U.S. law. Much greater burdens have been placed on public officials and public figures. These public plaintiffs need to prove what is called actual malice, which involves proving a false and defamatory fact was published that the publisher knew to be false or recklessly disregarded the likelihood of its falsity. This must be proven to a higher standard of proof than normal, or the case can be dismissed early in the litigation. The U.S. approach also provides much greater protection for opinion and comment. The requirements for public plaintiffs go much further than traditional law, where there is no requirement to prove a defamatory allegation is false, caused harm, or was published with fault. Other common law jurisdictions have developed new defamation defenses in response to the chilling effect; many now provide a defense for material that cannot be proven substantially true, but is of public interest and was published reasonably in all the circumstances. Damages are the usual remedy for common law defamation, despite long-standing calls to develop wider remedies. Their amount has long been contentious, and the risk of very substantial awards and high litigation costs for defamation in common law systems are important challenges for publishers. Under civil law systems, fines paid to the state, and even imprisonment, are possible penalties, with damages often also available to those defamed, and rights of reply to people criticized in the media also possible. Much defamation research is technical and aimed at practitioners. But empirically informed, sometimes interdisciplinary, research into defamation law, news production and media content also exists. Future challenges for defamation law and its research include the effects of Internet communication on who gets sued and where, and the role of intermediaries in relation to the content they make available.

Article

The Disciplines of Arabic Literature  

Roger Allen

The Arabic literary tradition is a long one, stretching back to undocumented beginnings in the Arabian Peninsula in the pre-Islamic (pre-7th century) era. The study of that heritage in Western academe began as a subset of the philological traditions of biblical and ancient Near Eastern scholarship, with their primary focus on the preparation of textual editions, compendia, dictionaries, and translations into European languages. In the specific context of studies devoted to the Arabic literary tradition, the study of the Qurʾān set the stage for the emergence of similar philological approaches to the variety of literary generic categories created within the increasingly widespread Arabic-speaking Islamic communities. The shift from the more philological approach to that of a more theoretically founded discipline of Arabic literature studies is a gradual one. Terry Eagleton notes (Literary Theory, 1983) that the discipline of literature studies—involving the interpretation of literary materials and their theorization—traces its beginnings to the early decades of the 20th century. In the case of the Arabic literary tradition, the shift can be traced to the second half of the same century, and as the result of a number of factors. In the Arabic-speaking regions themselves (in President Jamāl ʿAbd al-Nāṣir [Gamal Abdel Nasser] of Egypt’s terms, “from the [Atlantic] Ocean to the [Persian / Arabian] Gulf), changes in regimes led to the emergence of new political and social configurations, duly reflected in literary production. In the anglophone Western academic context, a consideration of the consequences of World War II led the governments of both the United States and Britain to establish commissions that led to the fostering of new approaches to the study of the regions of West Asia and North Africa and to the provision of funding for the creation of new centers and programs devoted to the modern period (however that was to be defined). Among the consequences of these new emphases was the need to offer instruction in the modern Arabic language and its dialects, thus providing students with skills that enabled them to avail themselves of opportunities to study at institutions in the Arabic-speaking world and to engage with Arab littérateurs and critics. The results of these various trends in Arabic literature studies during the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st, including the development of increasingly close affiliations with comparative literature studies, have shown themselves in a number of ways. As new centers of literary activity have emerged in different parts of the Arabic-speaking region (with the Gulf States as a primary example) and as Arab littérateurs have explored fresh genres and modes of expression (including media of a wide variety often expressed in colloquial dialect), so has literature scholarship set itself to apply new theoretical and critical approaches to the rapidly expanding publication sector. With the theorization of the discipline has come the need for a greater focus on individual genres, regions, and critical approaches and a concomitant move away from attempts to subsume “Arabic literature” under a single rubric. Such studies are not only opening up new avenues of inquiry, but are also demanding a re-examination of some of the principles and parameters governing the composition of Arabic literary history, both modern and premodern.

Article

Print, the Press, and the American Revolution  

Robert G. Parkinson

According to David Ramsay, one of the first historians of the American Revolution, “in establishing American independence, the pen and press had merit equal to that of the sword.” Because of the unstable and fragile notions of unity among the thirteen American colonies, print acted as a binding agent that mitigated the chances that the colonies would not support one another when war with Britain broke out in 1775. Two major types of print dealt with the political process of the American Revolution: pamphlets and newspapers. Pamphlets were one of the most important conveyors of ideas during the imperial crisis. Often written by elites under pseudonyms and published by booksellers, they have long been held by historians as the lifeblood of the American Revolution. There were also three dozen newspaper printers in the American mainland colonies at the start of the Revolution, each producing a four-page issue every week. These weekly papers, or one-sheet broadsides that appeared in American cities even more frequently, were the most important communication avenue to keep colonists informed of events hundreds of miles away. Because of the structure of the newspaper business in the 18th century, the stories that appeared in each paper were “exchanged” from other papers in different cities, creating a uniform effect akin to a modern news wire. The exchange system allowed for the same story to appear across North America, and it provided the Revolutionaries with a method to shore up that fragile sense of unity. It is difficult to imagine American independence—as a popular idea let alone a possible policy decision—without understanding how print worked in colonial America in the mid-18th century.