Submissions are invited for ‘Mass Media and the Performance of War (1853-1918)’, a special themed issue of Early Popular Visual Culture (December 2022).

The long 19th century saw the rise of distinctly ‘modern’ wars in their impact on the media and public opinion. Many historians have analysed the role of mass journalism and the growing awareness of media’s (allegedly) persuasive power that culminated in the widescale institutionalization of official war propaganda in the second half of the 1910s. This progressive narrative has largely focused on the press, while other technologies and forms of popular entertainment have received less attention. This issue aims to offer a finegrained picture of how a wide variety of popular mass media and performances fostered new possibilities for imaging and imagining war from 1853 until 1918.


This call seeks contributions that explore various forms of war-as-entertainment in the second half of the 19th century, including (but not limited to) hippodramas, moving panoramas, tableaux vivants, variety acts and lantern lectures. Spectacles can represent contemporary wars, for instance, the Crimean War (1853-1856), the Anglo-Boer Wars (1880-1881/1899-1902), the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) the First World War, as well as historical ones.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):
- Performance practices and spaces
- Audio-visual strategies and tropes of war-representation
- Media-technologies
- Spectatorship and audience responses
- Political, commercial, and cultural interest of such spectacles
- Dissemination of (dis)information through performances
- Performances’ contribution to the public debate about war-related issues
- Sociological and political impact of war-representations
- War-as-entertainment and the experience of modernity
- A media-archaeology approach of war-as-entertainment
- Colonialism-as-war

We welcome submissions that intersect media, performance and cultural war studies from a wide methodological perspective and broad disciplinary grounds; the issue focuses on the second half of the long 19th century and on Europe as the locus for the performances
(though they can represent wars from all over the world). 

Deadline for 300-word abstract submission: 30 November 2021. Please, send your proposal including your name, title of the proposal, and expected length of the article to Klaas de Zwaan and Annelies Andries at ( Full articles (between 7,000 and 10,000 words, including references and endnotes) are to be submitted by 1 April 2022.