CFP: Mediating War in the Early Modern World, 1600-1815

UNSW Canberra, 17-18 November 2015

Theorists of both war and the media claim the world has entered a revolutionary era in which military affairs have transformed modern armed conflict into information war. The depiction of a conflict – both its causes and its conduct – are as significant as strategy and tactics in determining the outcome.

But what are the histories of this conjunction of war and media? Is it only technical media that originate with the military or can we see such a relationship in earlier media forms and emerging technologies? Further, what role did conceptions of media and mediation play in earlier understanding and conduct of warfare?

This ground-breaking two-day conference addresses these questions by revisiting the military revolution of the early modern world. Arguably more of an evolutionary than revolutionary process, the post-1600 era witnessed a gradually accelerating stream of new media forms and mechanisms arising from new ways of applying force until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. These range from the nexus of early modern literacy, perspective painting and firearms discussed by Marshall McLuhan to the development of optical media, such as the magic lantern or ‘military perspective’, and the deployment of telegraphs, balloons, war finance and mass propaganda by the end of the eighteenth century. Following recent studies of representation and culture informing longitudinal histories of new media forms, this conference explores the ways in which the management of war was affected by the emergence of these new media; the foundations and patterns shaping a longer history of media and war; and how military technologies shaped the development of media.

Topics might include:

  • – War and the development of print culture
  • – Visual technologies and war
  • – Weapons and media forms
  • – War in relation to mapping, architecture and fortification
  • – Emotion as a medium of war
  • – Artistic and literary representations of war
  • – Taxation and finance as mediums of war – ‘the sinews of power’
  • – Land and ocean as the ‘transmission media’ of war – War as theatre, sermon, pageantry and parade
  • – War as an alternative means of politics

Proposals of up to 250 words can be emailed to Dr Neil Ramsey:

Dr Neil Ramsey:   Proposals are due by 31 July 2015

For more info visit:

This conference is hosted by the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society (ACSACS) at UNSW Canberra.