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This London Rare Books School online short course offers an introduction to the history of Black British magazines over a fifty-year period. Although magazines are often referred to as ephemera, their materiality, production, and content provide a social and cultural history. The course will consider how the dynamics of magazines show the changes that occurred in Black British life in the period after the Second World War.

An event that was to trigger and inspire people into magazine publishing just six weeks after the declaration of the end of the war in Europe, was the Pan-African Congress in Manchester of October 1945. There was a clear need to bring the voices of African and Asian People together to fight for their rights, which included the right to self-governance in their own home countries. Two years later, groups of migrants from the British empire began to arrive in Britain, invited to help rebuild the ‘mother country’. Magazines were needed to encourage communication and dialogue between newly arrived peoples of different colonies, many of whom had not met anyone from other African or Caribbean countries until they arrived in Britain. Publications produced for and by the community were tools through which they could be informed of each other’s cultures, share opinions, and campaign for issues such as human rights. Fifty years later, these themes continued to be explored in Black British magazines, as the introduction of online technology meant that a greater number of publications were produced for different target audiences. 

Through reading and analysing selective content – articles, editorials, columns, and letters – and learning about the social, technological, and cultural contexts of production, this course will consider how the dynamics of magazines helped to counter cultural hegemony in Britain during a period of some fifty years.

Price: £175/ £100 student