New doctor in media history

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EMHIS-member Erik Edoff defended his thesis, Storstadens dagbok: Boulevardpressen och mediesystemet i det sena 1800-talets Stockholm [Big city diary: The boulevard press and the media system in late 19th century Stockholm] on November 11, at the Department of communication and media, Lund university.

The dissertation examines a forgotten genre in Swedish press-history, the boulevard press. Edoff uses the concept of media system to analyse the media contexts of the boulevard press. The core of this approach is that all media forms are in various ways related to many other phenomena in society, including other media. The media system of the boulevard press consisted of relationships and dependencies to media like other newspapers, restaurants, cafés, wax museums, reprints, guide literature, theatres and variety shows.

The study shows that these relationships were of economic nature as well as symbolic resources for the writers of the boulevard papers when Stockholm was described as a metropolis. The analysis underscores the journalists’ function as guides, as well as the city as a place for modernity. Two main perspectives are identified, associated with different journalistic roles adopted when describing the city. The reporter guided his readers in the tram around the city and on walkabouts among shops, thus stressing his own mobility. The other journalistic position was the overview of the columnist. His elevated perspective was an important attribute when the newspapers summarised and presented the big city as a whole.

As a case point, the boulevard press underlines the importance of understanding the press, or any media, in the context of a broader media history. The dissertation makes a significant contribution to the media history of the press.

In two upcoming research projects, Edoff will examine different aspects of the media geography of Swedish 19th century newspapers.

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