Events Calendar
Oct 24
16:00 - 17:15
'Narratives of battle must nowadays be served up red hot': special correspondents and the Franco-Prussian War', Cathy Waters
English Research Seminar series

This week's English Research Seminar, at 4pm on Wednesday in DLT3, will feature Cathy Waters' talk 'Narratives of battle must nowadays be served up red hot': special correspondents and the Franco-Prussian War.' Mike Collins, formerly of this parish and now at King's College London, will be providing a response. Wine will be served afterwards in the English common room. All are welcome.Abstract:Ever since William Howard Russell's dispatches from the Crimea served to diminish the distance between the home front and remote battlefields in the 1850s, the British reading public had demanded reports from 'our special correspondent at the seat of the war'. While the American Civil War had brought about significant stylistic changes and placed a new premium upon speed in American newspapers, it was the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 that marked a watershed in the development of war reporting in Britain. All of the major British newspapers sent specials to cover the conflict. It was the first European conflict to be reported extensively by telegraph, but it was also distinguished by reversion to earlier forms of transportation and communication technology that were used to transmit the news during the siege of Paris. It sharpened the rivalry between correspondents at the same time as cultivating their camaraderie and their perception of themselves as members of a profession. While it afforded some specials the opportunity to make their name, it also brought into critical focus the fraught and potentially dangerous nature of their role as they became victims of the spy mania that arose in France, as well as embroiled in charges of fake news. Their reports were praised for their immediacy and authenticity, and yet at the same time derided for their sensationalism, stylistic excesses and blurring of the boundary between fiction and fact. In short, the Franco-Prussian War and the controversy that surrounded its reportage enable us to see special correspondence as a significant part of the changing cultural formations of the popular newspaper press in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The talk will be followed by drinks in the School of English Common Room, Rutherford Extension. All are warmly welcome, especially postgraduate students.


Darwin College,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Contact: Robbie Richardson
School of English


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