Events Uncategorized

Event: Radio Modernisms


Features, Cultures and the BBC


British Library, 19 May 2016,

to be followed by an early evening listening event


A University of Westminster CAMRI conference organised by

Aasiya Lodhi, Lecturer in Radio and Journalism, and Amanda Wrigley, Research Fellow.


The recent, welcome surge of academic interest in the early decades of radio broadcasting has led to a re-evaluation of the theories, methodologies and historiographies used in scholarly considerations of radio programming, personnel and audiences across the twentieth century. Not only is radio becoming more firmly situated in its proper place within the media ecology of the last century, it is also increasingly located in its various cultural, creative, educational and political ‘ecologies’. Radio as a thing experienced and made sense of by individual listeners is, importantly, receiving renewed attention (e.g. Kate Lacey’s 2013 Listening Publics), and there is a broader acknowledgement of the inherent modernism of the medium and its forms in this period, in addition to its innate intermediality.

Taking its cue from an important strand in this new wave of work (e.g. Todd Avery’s 2006 Radio Modernism, and the edited collections Broadcasting in the Modernist Era, 2014, and the 2015 Modernist Cultures special issue on radio), this one-day conference aims to interrogate emerging and pluralistic conceptions of radio modernism, especially in relation to the BBC’s radio feature programmes. As a creative nucleus, the personnel, editorial strategies and programming of the Features Department, to its closure in 1964, offer rich points of focus for British broadcasting’s complex entanglements with late modernism. Bringing together an interdisciplinary group of specialists, the conference will explore, both through close reading and examination of wider cultural contexts, notions of remediation, intermediality, broadcast vernacular, emotion, listening constituencies, spatiality, technoculture, and more, with a view to encouraging further scholarly engagements with the various interpretations and interplays of ‘radio modernisms’ in twentieth-century Britain.

Todd Avery (Massachusetts Lowell) will give a keynote on engagements with literary modernism in The Listener editorials, Hugh Chignell (Bournemouth) will reassess the demise of the Features Department in 1964, Alex Goody (Oxford Brookes) will examine radio drama and its relationship to features in the 1940s, David Hendy (Sussex) will speak on the emotional mood of the pioneering generation of BBC workers, Kate Lacey (Sussex) will explore the ‘vernacular modernism’ of the broadcast flow of pre-war radio, Alex Lawrie (Edinburgh) will consider audience response to literary features, Aasiya Lodhi (Westminster) will examine transnationalism in Louis MacNeice’s travel features, Henry Mead (Teesside) will discuss Orwell and poetry, Amanda Wrigley (Westminster) will explore the Nachleben of features and John Wyver (Westminster) will explore the translation and transformation of ‘pure radio’ techniques to ‘poetic’ television documentaries.


Booking for this one-day conference will open shortly. To register your interest and reserve a place, please email