‘Barbarous cruelty at the British Museum’: mediatization, authority, and reputation in nineteenth-century England
This article considers the usefulness of mediatization theories in historical studies of the media. Using a series of letters published in the UK newspaper The Times between 1885 and 1886 as an example, the article examines the way in which processes of mediatization developed alongside the institutions of social and cultural power by which they were reflexively constituted. On the basis of Hjarvard’s distinction between direct and indirect forms of mediatization, the paper looks at the ways in which the enunciation of moral authority and personal reputation were transformed by their incorporation into mediatized culture. At the same time, it is argued that mediatization is not a standalone process but is, rather, part of a wider set of social processes. The article reflects on the contribution of mediatization theories to developing a rounded picture of media history.
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