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Workshop – Images of the news, 1550-1950

Using images of the news in historical research

With Rutger van der Hoeven (UU, Groene Amsterdammer) and Ramon Voges (Universität Paderborn)
Date: 29 May 2015 (CHANGED DATE)
Time: 13.00-17.00
Venue: UvA – University Library – Belle van Zuylenzaal
Organised by: Thomas Smits (RU) & Rosanne Baars (UvA)
Chair: Dr. Michiel van Groesen

In the last two decades under influence of the so-called visual culture studies historians have started to tread images as a serious historical source. Recent research in the field focuses specifically on images of news events. However, the theoretical basis of visual culture studies is biased towards ‘modern’ media, like photography and film, while earlier ones, like the woodcut and lithograph, are often left untreated. Images and maps of the news were already used in the second half of the sixteenth century. The work of engravers and printers, like Frans Hogenberg in Cologne and Jacques Tortorel en Jean Perrissin in Geneva, was disseminated throughout Europe. Europeans could no longer only read the news, they could also see it. The dissemination of ‘news images’ continued to rise in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century. Before the application of the half-tone process in the 1880’s, which enabled the widespread use of photographs in newspapers in magazines, illustrated newspapers, like the world renowned Illustrated London News, reached millions of ‘viewers’ with their illustrations of the news. This workshop aims to bring together students and experts from different fields (history, art-history and media studies) to discuss the use of images of the news. Is ‘image of the news’ a useful category to analyze visual culture from the sixteenth until the twentienth century? Is there a fundamental difference between ‘modern’ and ‘pre-modern’ images of the news? And especially for text-oriented historians: how can images be used in the historical field, not only as a viable source but also as a medium for presenting results? Can a historical narrative be presented visually? Rutger van der Hoeven, (Utrecht University an editor at ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’) will talk about ‘Nieuwsfoto’s als vorm van collectief geheugen’.  Ramon Voges (Universität Paderborn) is working on a PhD-project on the historiographical prints of Frans and Abraham Hogenberg, two sixteenth-century print-makers from the Southern Netherlands. He recently published an article on the representation of power and massacre in the news prints of Frans Hogenberg.

Programme [table id=12 /]


All participants are expected to read five of the listed articles or chapters. In addition, they should also bring a visual source – an illustration, photograph or painting, preferably concerning a news event – to the workshop. Please send the image and a list of the articles you have read to the organizers a week before the workshop. Participants who want to receive 2 ECTS are expected to complete the following assignment.

1: Essay (only for participants wanting to receive credits)

Describe in an essay of approximately 1500 words how you use, or could use, visual material in your research. What is the value of images as historical source in your project? What theories do you use? Would the category ‘images of the news’ be valuable addition to your theoretical framework? Please contact the organizers if you have any questions.

2: Image (all participants)

Please bring a visual source – an illustration, photograph or painting, preferably concerning a news event – to the workshop.

3: Literature (all participants)

Please read at least five of the listed articles or chapters. Please send the organisers a list of the articles/chapter you have a read a week before the workshop.


  • P. Benedict, ‘The Visual Reporting of Current Events in Europe before 1570 and the Pictorial Language of the Prints’, in: P. Bendict, Graphic History. The Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin (Genève 2007) 75-121.
  • K. Barnhurst en J. Nerone, ‘Civic Picturing vs. Realist Photojournalism. The Regime of the Illustrated News, 1856-1901’, Design Issues 16:1 (2000) 59-79.
  • W. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in: W. Benjamin, Illuminations (London 1997) 211-245.
  • P. Burke, ‘Introduction’, ‘Photographs and Portraits’; ‘Iconography and Iconology’, in: P. Burke, Eyewitnessing – the Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (London 2001) 9-46.
  • M. Kleppe, ‘Icoonfoto’s’, in: M. Kleppe, Canonieke Icoonfoto’s: de rol van (pers)foto’s in de Nederlandse geschiedschrijving (Delft/Zutphen 2013) 20-43.
  • H. Beunders and M. Kleppe, ‘Een plaatje bij een praatje of bron van onderzoek?: fotografie verwerft geleidelijk een plek in de historische wetenschap’, Groniek 43: 187 (2010) 121-139.
  • C. Klinkert, ‘Het beeld als historische bron’:’Militair nieuws en militaire nieuwsprenten’, in:
  • C. Klinkert, Nassau in het nieuws. Nieuwsprenten van Maurits van Nasssaus militaire ondernemingen uit de periode 1590-1600 (Zutphen, 2005), 22-49.
  • Ramon Voges, ‘Augenzeugenschaft und Evidenz. Die Bildberichte Franz und Abraham Hogenbergs als visuelle Historiographie’,  in: Sybille Krämer, Sibylle Schmidt und Ramon Voges (eds.) Politik der Zeugenschaft. Zur Kritik einer Wissenspraxis (Bielefeld 2011) 159-181.
  • Ramon Voges, ‘Macht, Massaker und Repräsentation. Darstellungen asymmetrischer Gewalt in der Bildpublizistik Franz Hogenbergs’, in: Jörg Baberowski und Gabriele Metzler (eds.), Gewalträume. Soziale Ordnungen im Ausnahmezustand. (Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag 2012) 29-69.