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Rags and refuse : the newspaper, empire, and nineteenth century commodity culture.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/11/2006
JournalCultural Studies
Journal number6
Volume20
Number of pages25
Pages574-598
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article asks what an analysis of nineteenth century English newspapers can tell us about the developing commodity culture, and what an understanding of the newspaper as commodity can reveal about the evolving nature of the newspaper. Using Walter Benjamin's work on commodities and temporality, and focusing on issues of empire, I argue that newspapers such as The Manchester Guardian constituted a 'technology of possession': alongside their status as commodities and commercial enterprises, such newspapers formed a lens for perceiving the world in terms of capitalist principles of ownership and exchange, and constituted a kind of early intellectual property rights. Establishing particular commodity-rhythms of production and consumption, the newspaper tapped into and rearticulated the temporalities of modernity, shaping and being shaped by a culture of commodities.