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March 2017

Special Issue on 'Print Culture, Mobility, and the Pacific, 1920-1950'

Susann Liebich has, together with Dr Victoria Kuttainen from James Cook University, guest-edited a special issue of Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies on the theme 'Print Culture, Mobility, and the Pacific, 1920-1950. The four articles in the special issue explore the way in which print culture was part of the practices, experiences, mediations and representations of travel and mobility. They understand mobility in a number of ways: from the movement of people and texts across space to the mobility of ideas and the opportunities of social mobility through travel. The special issue moves beyond studies of travel writing and the literary analysis of travel narratives by discussing a range of genres, by paying attention to readers and reception, and by focusing on actual mobility and its representation as well as the mediation between the two.

The introduction, co-authored by Susann Liebich and Victoria Kuttainen, provides the broader context for considering print culture and mobility within one analytical frame. The introduction stresses the significance of the period 1920-1950, which saw the emergence of mass travel, mass print, and mass consumption, and the special issue investigates how these aspects were interlinked. An increasing number of books and new glossy magazines were awash with glamorous images of people and vehicles on the move. Mobility was central to the production of modern print culture since mass print was distributed through mass transportation networks. Conversely, print culture stimulated both real and imagined travel and contributed to an aspirational culture that tied geographical mobility to social mobility.

Susann and Victoria also contributed a co-authored article to the special issue, that explores representations of mobility, especially across the Pacific, in two interwar quality Australian magazines. The article argues that the distinct
geographical imaginaries of these magazines, which linked travel and
geographical mobility with aspiration and social mobility, played a role in
consolidating and nourishing the class standing of their readers, and revealed
some of their attitudes toward gender and race.

The journal “Transfers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies” is published by Berghahn and is a peer-reviewed journal on cutting-edge research on the processes, structures and consequences of the movement of people, resources, and commodities. The journal combines the empiricism of traditional mobility history with more recent methodological approaches from the social sciences and the humanities.

March-May 2017

Susann Liebich visiting fellow at Victoria University of Wellington

Susann Liebich  is currently a Resident Fellow at the Stout Centre for New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington. Susann is in Wellington for 3 months to undertake archival research into the experiences of maritime mobility in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She will be using the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, which holds a number of shipboard diaries of emigrants and other travellers crossing the Pacific on route to New Zealand. While a research fellow at the Stout Centre, she also plans to write a chapter for a forthcoming collection on the History of Reading, tentatively entitled “Mobile Texts, Mobile Readers and the Condition of being at Sea”.

October 2016

Johanna de Schmidt defends PhD dissertation

Johanna de Schmidt successfully defended her PhD dissertation this month. Her thesis investigates the production, use and role of shipboard newspapers during the nineteenth century, and explores what these sea-borne cultural artefacts can reveal about the experiences of being in transit.

July 2016


Annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing

From July 18  to July 22, project members Susann Liebich and Johanna de Schmidt participated at the annual conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP). This year’s conference with the title “Languages of the Book/Les langues du livres” was a bilingual event and took place in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. The annual conference of SHARP regularly brings together scholars from all over the world working on authorship and publishing as well as writing and reading in general. With eleven parallel panels, the event offered multiple possibilities to hear and learn about book history, languages of the book and publications practices, to name just a few common approaches. In the panel entitled “The Language of Transit and Travel: Shipboard publications in the 19th and 20th Centuries” both Johanna de Schmidt and Susann Liebich gave their papers presenting their respective projects. The panel was furthermore completed by Jimmy Packham (Bristol) and chaired by Martyn Lyons (Sydney). Both the conference and the panel in particular were very successful, initiating various thought-provoking discussions, fruitful debates and further scholarly collaborations.

April 2016


Talk in Bristol, UK

In April 2016, Johanna de Schmidt gave a paper at the University of Bristol. Her talk was entitled “Contested communities at sea – shipboard periodicals in the nineteenth century” and it analyzed the role of shipboard publications for community building and dissolving aboard intercontinental passages during the nineteenth century.  Johanna’s visit to Bristol was funded through the grant scheme for mobility and international collaboration that project leader Susann Liebich recently won. The collaboration between the Universities of Heidelberg and Bristol will be further enhanced through this funding in the following months, including the organization of a workshop later this year. 

April 2016


Resident Fellow at Stout Research Centre, Wellington

During April and May 2016, Susann Liebich will be a resident fellow/ associated member at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. As a resident fellow, Susann will benefit from the collegiality and intellectual exchange with other fellows, and also have access to an office and library resources. While at the Stout Centre, Susann plans to  work on a book chapter on representations of the sea in New Zealand popular print culture of the interwar period. The chapter draws on three monthly periodicals to highlight the various ways the sea, from beaches and coastlines to the vast open ocean, featured in the popular imagination of this period: as a space of leisure and health; as a site of mobility, travel and connections; and as a place of work and maritime livelihoods. The chapter will be published in an edited collection on historical perspectives on the sea in New Zealand in 2017. While in Wellington, Susann will also give a public lecture on this topic.

January 2016


Award for mobility and international collaboration

Susann Liebich has won funding from Heidelberg University to organise a workshop on “Reading and Writing at Sea” in late 2016. The highly competitive grant scheme aims to support early-career researchers in establishing international collaborations and enhance their scholarly networking opportunities. Susann received just over EUR 10,000 to bring colleagues from the University of Bristol to Heidelberg for a joined workshop and to allow her and members of the Floating Spaces research group a visit to Bristol during the coming year.

January 2016


„Oceans of Opportunity“ Panel at the American Historical Association

Susann Liebich recently took part in a panel on “Oceans of Opportunity: Women’s Mobility in the Early 20th-Century Pacific World” at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta, from 7 to 10 January. The annual meeting of the AHA brings together several thousand historians mostly based in the US, but also from abroad, for four days of stimulating keynote lectures, round tables and panels. This year’s theme of “Global Migrations” attracted papers on various aspects of migration, movement and mobility, with a surprisingly large number of papers focussing on the Pacific and trans-oceanic connections. Susann’s paper explored representations of women’s trans-Pacific mobility in Australian magazines of the interwar period noting the glamour and prestige associated with travel in this period. Together with the other papers by Anne Rees (Australian National University) on and Sarah Steinbock-Pratt (University of Alabama), the panel highlighted the range and extent of white women’s mobility across the early twentieth century Pacific, and revealed that these oceanic crossings were often represented and experienced as emancipatory.

December 2015


Scholarship success

Johanna de Schmidt recently won a Writing up Grant awarded by the Fazit-Stiftung, which will fully fund her project during the next six months while she is writing up her PhD thesis. The highly competitive scholarship is sponsored by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s major daily newspapers. The Fazit-Stiftung supports doctorial and postdoctoral research in a wide range of subjects, but particularly connected to media and the press.

July 2015


Visit from Laurence Publicover, University of Bristol

On 1 and 2 July 2015, the Cluster hosted Dr Laurence Publicover, Lecturer in English, from the University of Bristol for a 2-day visit. Laurence’s research focusses on Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists, and on sea literature and writing about the sea from the classical period to the present. At Bristol, he co-founded the “Perspectives from the Sea” research cluster, which promotes inter-disciplinary research on the sea within the university and collaborates with Bristol institutions including the SS Great Britain and the Royal West of England Academy. His recent publications include an article on Shakespeare’s seas and a companion piece on representations of piracy and the sea in Renaissance drama. His current research interests take him from above sea levels to underwater worlds, exploring representations of oceanic depths in early modern literature.

During his visit to Heidelberg, Laurence gave a talk to the Global History Colloquium at the Historische Seminar, on metaphors of the sea in Renaissance drama. On the afternoon of the first day and the entire second day, members of MC12 organised a mini-workshop with Laurence, which also included interested History MA students. Cluster members Susann Liebich, Johanna de Schmidt and Carolin Matjeka introduced their current research (on ships’ libraries, ships’ newspapers and the role of telegraphy in sea travel respectively), and BA student Daniela Egger also spoke about her research on crossing-the-line ceremonies on nineteenth-century sailing vessels. During the workshop, we discussed some of the theoretical underpinnings that run through all our projects, specifically the ways in which the experiences of being in transit are being mediated through cultural practices and what a theory of “transit” might entail. We hope the visit by Laurence is the first of many collegial exchanges and perhaps the beginning of more collaborative work in the future between the Mini Cluster “Floating Spaces” at Heidelberg and “The Perspectives from the Sea” research cluster at Bristol.

June 2015


Symposium "Space, place and landscape in the history of communications"

In June 2015 Carolin Matjeka participated in the symposium “Space, place and landscape in the history of communications” at Oxford University. This one day event was organized by Dr. Elizabeth Bruton (Marconi Fellow, Bodleian Library Oxford) and considered the impact of space, place, and landscape upon communications systems and their heritage from 1700 to the present day in three sessions: Wireless World, Knowledge in Transit and Designed Spaces. Carolins talk was entitled “Communication in Transit: Wireless Telegraphy and Ship Newspapers on Ocean Liners”.  She focused on the establishment of the first Ship Newspapers on Cunard Liners with the help of the Marconi Company before World War One and analyzed both the reactions of the traveling public as well as of the wider audience on land. Afterwards the organizers invited the participants to a reception at the Science Museum, where one could also attend a guided tour. It was a nice opportunity and great experience.

April 2015


Ships Colloquium

On 21 April 2015, MC 12 project members will hold a Ships Colloquium, to discuss their latest research. The meeting will kick off with a talk by postdoctoral fellow Susann Liebich on New Zealand troopship magazines produced during the First World War. Susann has so far looked at over 90 troopship publications, which were variously hand-written, printed and distributed on board, or printed on arrival. The magazines are often artistically impressive and beautiful artefacts, providing a rich source of troopship life and of the concerns, thoughts and humour of soldiers during the First World War. The magazines also offer unique insights into how war fashioned new print productions, which in this case shaped the experiences of oceanic transit and facilitated the transition from citizens to soldiers.

In the second part of the Colloquium, project members Johanna de Schmidt, Carolin Matjeka, Amin Mobasheri and Stefan Geissler will share recent archival discoveries and discuss their work on ships’ newspapers in the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries, on conceptions of time in relation to oceanic travel, on Lloyd’s lists and on the use of HGIS for re-interpreting existing sources within a spatiotemporal context.

April 2015


Conference on Colonial Print Media

Johanna de Schmidt presented her ongoing research project at the “Print Media in the Colonial World” conference, taking place at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, on 16-17 April 2015. The two day conference focused on newspapers and periodicals in the colonial world during the 19th and 20th century. In her talk “Experiencing colonies from aboard a ship: Periodicals on intercontinental vessels in the 19th century”, Johanna presented some of the central research questions of her PhD project and discussed especially the ways in which different (colonial) port cities were depicted in shipboard periodicals. In addition to many interesting presentations and two stimulating keynotes (by Shawn McHale and Rudolf Wagner), the whole event was shaped by many thought-provoking discussions, both during the talks as well as over tasty lunches and coffee breaks.