In the Spring of 2021, ESPRit organises a series of online seminars in collaboration with ETMIET/KENI, Panteion University, Athens: Crossover influences and local identities of the popular illustrated periodicals of the 19th and twentieth centuries


The inaugural session of the series will be held on 26 March from 12-1PM CET

Chair: Peter Buse (Liverpool University)

Keynote speaker: Victoria Kuttainen (Associate Professor English and Writing, James Cook University, Australia) 

Title: Portholes, Channels, and Seductions: The Messy Affordances of Antipodean Periodical Scholarship  

In a well-known essay in published in The New Left Review in 2000, Franco Moretti called for a new approach to literary history that would capture the enormous abundance and variety of world literature. In his subsequent 2005 book, Graphs, Maps, and Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History, he proposed various ways to approach the field from the perspective of distant reading: graphing the rise and fall of the novel in various countries, mapping various literary geographies from village stories to the larger transits enabled by the modern industrial railway , and tracing an evolutionary tree of developing literary forms. Though Moretti’s work expanded the universe of literary study beyond a narrow band of canonical texts usually offered up for study, it was criticised for still yet focusing on history’s “winners”—famous novels, mostly written in English.

Taking its cue from Moretti’s ways of thinking about the literary field, this presentation reflects on the conceptual possibilities offered by periodical study, and in doing so it offers a perspective of culture not from the standpoint of the “winners” but from the “other side.” The etymology of the “antipodes” means quite literally “the other side” or “the other foot.” Scholarship from the Global South in general and from Australia in my specific experience has offered me as scholar originating from Britain and North America alternative ways to view established narratives of world culture and literary history, in particular.

This presentation looks at a few conceptual possibilities that have offered themselves up through a decade of research on 1920s and 1930s' Australian magazines, a journey that began by asking the random question, on an airplane journey over the Pacific, “how come there are so few Australian novels about the sea?” It proposes that what Sean Latham called the “Mess and the Muddle” of modernist periodical scholarship offers particularly rich insights when undertaken from an antipodean perspective, about the print culture of colonial modernity. And it suggests that this perspective can be viewed as kind of heterotopic site for European modernity. 

Watch the recording of this lecture here: