Welcome to the first issue of the EPOP Project Newsletter List of Contents

1. PROJECT PRESENTATION p. 2 2. PRESENTATION OF MEMBER INSTITUTIONS p.5 3. OTHER NEWS p.7 4. ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER p.7 Popular Roots of European Culture Through Film, Comics and Serialized Literature (EPOP Project) is a research and popularization project funded by the European Commission in the frame of the Culture Programme 2007 and is promoted by the Department of Music and Performing Arts of the University of Bologna, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Limoges, the Pallas Institute for Art Historical and Literature Studies University of Leiden, the GRIT (Groupe des Recherche sur l’Image et le Texte) of the Catholic University of Louvainla-Neuve, and the Department for Culture of the Province of Pescara. The project started on November 24, 2008 and will be completed on May 24, 2010. The EPOP Project Newsletter will provide news about the development of the Project’s activities and will circulate any information on research, initiatives and events concerning the history of European popular culture. The no. 1, January 2009 issue gives an overview of the EPOP Project and of its members. We invite you to send us information on your activity or any other news relating to our research field: we will be glad to include them in the next issues. If you have any suggestions regarding the newsletter or anything relating to the project, please send your message to: federico.pagello@unibo.it With the best wishes, EPOP Project Publication Committee


1) Project Presentation
The EPOP Project deals with an object that has received a growing attention in the last few decades, both inside and outside academic studies: the fictional texts (both written and visual) serially produced by European culture industries between mid-XIXth century and early XXth century. Throughout all Europe research in the history of popular literature and its transmedia relationships with visual narrative forms (such as film and comics) has dramatically increased in many national contexts, producing a proliferation of publications, university courses, websites, public events, networking among collectioners, etc. However, while the urgency of a transnational approach to this phenomenon has been acknowledged communication among cultural institutions concerned in various ways with research and archival preservation in this domain in the different European countries still remains flawed. This is why the EPOP project aims to surpass the cultural and linguistic boundaries that have until now prevented a true appraisal of the continental dimension of industrial popular culture produced between the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries by establishing a transnational network of researchers and institutions working to promote a better knowledge of this particular cultural heritage among EU citizens. Eight countries are already involved. Cooperation among a wide range of cultural institutions in different countries aims to produce a network of research, didactics and popularization activities. Several activities have been planned: Creation of a searchable database with detailed information; Creation of a multilingual on line Virtual materials; Publication of a collection of essays (in Museum of archival and French); English

Education/Information seminars addressed at students and teachers; Publication of a multilingual CD-Rom with teaching resources; An exhibition of reproductions of archival materials; Production of a periodical newsletter. Project Topic Industrial popular culture emerged in the mid-Nineteenth century as a literary phenomenon through a range of different serial formats (such as the roman-feuilleton in France, the penny dreadfuls in the United Kingdom, the Kolportageliteratur in Germany, etc.). Circulated


throughout all Europe by means of an extensive process of translation, imitation and plagiarism, and subsequently largely reused as a primary source in films and comics fictions, popular literature constitutes an important native phenomenon for European cultural identity, a shared depository of themes, narrative topoi and figures – as well as, because of the crucial function of illustrations, iconography – that can instinctively be recognized by the audiences as their own collective memory. The socio-cultural relevance of this production appears clearly in a continental perspective: reprising and reworking Gramsci’s oft-cited contention, we might say that popular fictions are not only national-popular, but fundamentally “international-popular.” The works of famous authors such as Eugene Sue, Alexandre Dumas, Ponson du Terrail, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Karl May, Emilio Salgari and so on, and “immortal” characters such as Rocambole, Sherlock Holmes, Raffles, Arsène Lupin, Fantomas, Lord Lister, Morgan the Pirate, Maciste, Belphégor, etc. have been the privileged object of an ininterrupted process of cultural exchange throughout all European countries. The remarkably visual character of such fictions – made explicit both in the illustrations and the iconography associated with these products and in later film and comics adaptations – has enormously facilitated their international dissemination, and may still today represent a powerful means to promote intercultural dialogue among the population of the different countries that constitute the European Union. The research teams involved in the project (led by Prof. Monica Dall’Asta in Bologna, Prof. Jacques Migozzi in Limoges, Prof. Jean-Louis Tilleuil in Louvain-la Neuve and Prof. Adriaan van der Weel in Leiden) will provide different approaches (such as Film History, History of Popular Literature, Comics History, Book History) as needed by the transmedial nature of the subject. Description of the activities Research will be focused on achieving several activities: 1. Creation of a searchable database concerning the origins of European popular culture from mid-XIXth century to the third decade of XXth century. This will be a useful tool for any researcher interested in exploring these subjects from a European perspective.


2.Selection of materials, production of texts and management of the technical achievement of a multilingual Virtual Museum (in English, Italian, French and Dutch) of archival materials (both written and visual), comprising examples of serialized fictions ranging from French romans-feuilleton and image d'Epinal to the popular series marketed throughout the whole Continent by German publisher Alwin Eichler and his followers, from British detective novels of the late nineteenth century to their Italian and German imitations, etc. The intermedial dimension of this survey will be provided by the inclusion of filmographical/bibliographical data and graphic displays documenting the extensive process of adaptation of literary sources on film and comics beyond national boundaries; 3. Publication of a collection of essays (in English and French) by authors of different nationalities, focusing on the processes of cultural exchange at work in the European popular fictions produced in the period comprised between the midnineteenth century and the third decade of twentieth century. 4. Organization of seminars for students and teachers and production of specific teaching tools aimed to make the results of scientific research immediately available to educational systems. 5. Preparation of an exhibition devoted to the influence of popular literature – its authors, characters and themes – on the iconography of European illustration, comics and cinema. The scope of the exhibition will be to give the general public the possibility to see reproductions of rare examples of publications and press materials related to cinematographic productions of the silent cinema period, thus broadening the target of the project and drawing interest on intermedial and transnational reports on cinema, press imagery, and popular literature. Creation of operative connections among a number of institutions working in the field in question: universities, museums, libraries, public bodies, cultural associations, festivals, journals and private collectors. The networking activity will continue throughout the duration of the project and constitutes in fact one of its main objectives. This newsletter will be one of the tools specifically designed to support networking activity.


2) Presentation of Member Institutions
Here is a short description of the institutions involved in the EPOP Project: 1. The research group on the "Archeology of Serial Cinema" is led by Prof. Monica Dall'Asta at the Dipartimento di Musica e Spettacolo, University of Bologna. The appearance of the serial film was undoubtedly one of the most peculiar among the many innovations that deeply transformed the film market during the First World War: research is aimed to analyze how the transnational circulation of these products favoured the development and the dissemination of a new popular culture on a global scale. The relationship between silent cinema and other literary and visual languages (such as popular literature, illustration and early comics) is another important aspect of this issue, since transmediality strongly reinforced the transnational circulation of serial fictions. For more information: http://www.unibo.it/SitoWebDocente/default.htm?upn=monica.dallasta%40unibo.it&Tab Control1=TabRicerca Materials on the history of serial cinema are available here: http://www.cinema.unibo.it/index.php?id=337 2. The CRLPCM (Research Centre on Popular Literatures and Media Cultures) at the University of Limoges was founded in 1982 by Jean Claude Vareille and Ellen Costans. It is the only research group in France exclusively devoted to the analysis of popular fictions in modern media. From 1982 to 1995, the Centre worked on thematic and genre analysis, focusing especially on the nineteenth Century and Belle Epoque popular novel, contributing to reassess the anthropological and literary relevance of the "mauvais genres", condemned by high culture and ignored by intellectuals. Since 1995, thanks to Jacques Migozzi, who today leads the team, le CRLPCM has widened the scope of its research. It promotes the interdisciplinary dynamics of an international group of researchers, through conferences, work meetings, and collective publications, such as the recent Le roman populaire en France (1836-1960). Du roman-feuilleton aux premières tv adaptations, published by Editions Autrement). Along with their network of partners, the Limoges researchers provide a critical view of multimedial fictional content produced and distributed by cultural industries and circulating in the public space since the rise of the roman-feuilleton.


Important conferences have been linked to this constantly evolving collective work. The proceedings of the conferences were published by Presses Universitaire de Limoges in their specialized series "Littérature en marge" then "Médiatextes", Le roman populaire en questions (1997), De l'écrit à l'écran (2000), Productions du populaire (2005). 3. The GRIT (Groupe de Recherche sur l’Image et le Texte) is a research group on Image and Text that was created back in 1997 by P. Massart. Conceived as a multidisciplinary team, it involves members of several departments of the Université catholique de Louvain (mostly the Romance Philology, the History and the Arts and Archeology departments), as well as Art and College teachers. Currently managed by Professor Jean-Louis Tilleuil, the team's main objective is to consider the growing importance, in our society, of cultural productions involving both image and text: Comic books, illustrated books, commercials, children literature… Two perspectives are favoured in the study of these "mixed" messages : a) A theoretical point of view, that consists in establishing a specific and applied semiology of the relationships between image and text and describing the thematic, stereotypic and symbolic imaginary of the mixed messages ; b) A pedagogical point of view, that aims to build methodological and didactical tools to allow university teachers to efficiently approach mixed messages. 4. At Leiden, the department of Book and Digital Media Studies has had a long-standing interest in publishing history. In recent years Adriaan van der Weel (who was one of the department’s co-founders in 1990) has begun to devote special attention to the rise of a popular print culture from the nineteenth century. Van der Weel is a book historian with a specialisation in the history of mass literacy and its relationship with the advent of a succession of new media from the late nineteenth century. The Leiden University EPOP crew comprises two further scholars, bringing a varied expertise to EPOP. Comparative literary scholar Yasco Horsman is a member, as is Adriaan van der Weel, of the newly established Institute for Cultural Disciplines in the Faculty of Humanities. His specialisation is in twentieth-century transmediality. Peter Verhaar works in the University Library. he is an IT specialist with a particular interest in data mining and the semantic web.


3) Other News
Each issue of the newsletter will provide information on research, initiatives and events concerning the history of European popular culture. We strongly encourage you to contribute to this section sending us any news about your activities or any other initiatives in this field that you would like to promote throughout our newsletter.

4) About the newsletter
EPOP Project Newsletter provides news about the development of the project activities and circulates information on research, initiatives and events concerning the history of European popular culture. The newsletter will normally be published monthly. To be removed from our mailing list, just click reply, and put 'remove' in the subject line. We will immediately remove your email address from our mailing-list. This publication reflects the views only of its authors, and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.