International conference organised by MSH Paris Nord, MSH des Alpes, MSH d'Aquitaine, MSH de Paris, MSH Nord-Pas de Calais
and Gricis Université du Québec à Montréal, within the ACI programme
« Les mutations des industries de la culture, de l’information et de la communication : bilan, cartographie, observation ».
  Workshop 1.1 - Workshop 1.2 - Workshop 1.3 - Workshop 1.4 - Workshop 1.5
Workshop 1.3 Transformations in cultural production
  Chairman :
- Roger Delbarre, University Paris 13, LabSIC, MSH Paris Nord, France

Speakers :
Bart Beaty, University of Calgary - Faculty of Communication and Culture, Canada
« Cultural Legitimacy and the new comic strip »

David Douyère, Luc Pinhas, Université Paris 13 - LabSIC - MSH Paris Nord, France
« Channels for Expression. Politically committed publishers : independent and political Publishing in France (1996-2006) »

Camille Joseph, EHESS, Paris, France
«A large publishing house with respect to the economic environment: La Découverte Publishing»
>>> Download the communication (French)

Karine Taveaux-Grandpierre, Université Paris 13 - LabSIC - IUT de Bobigny, France
«Hachette-Lagardère-Vivendi Universal, 1826-2006 : almost 200 years at the service of the industrialisation of culture»
>>> Download the communication (French)


«Cultural Legitimacy and the new comic strip »

Bart Beaty
Université de Calgary, Canada

Over the course of the past fifteen years, a large number of artists working in a variety of western European nations have overturned the dominant traditions of comic book publishing as they have existed on the continent since the end of the Second World War. These artists have rejected both the traditional form (hardcover, full color ‘albums’) and content (humour or adventure stories, generally targeted to children) of comic books, seeking instead to align the field more closely with experimental and avant-gardist tendencies in the visual arts. In particular, these artists draw upon the notion of the artist’s book as a means to draw distinctions between their own cultural practice and that which they reject, or, in the crudest terms, between art and popular culture. In short, cartoonists working with a number of artist-run cooperative comic book publishing houses (L'Association, Frémok, Drozophile) have sought to render a traditionally degraded aspect of popular culture un-popular, transforming it into the process through the adoption of values borrowed from the field of consecrated high art.

With the emergence of the small-press (or artist-run) comics industry as a cultural force by the late-1990s, efforts were made by the largest and best-established European comic book publishers, particularly in France and Belgium, to recuperate or co-opt this movement to their own ends. The result was the migration of numerous small-press or independent artists to the established houses, where they began to produce new works that synthesized a "small-press" aesthetic within the dominant production model of Franco-Belgian cartooning (hardcover, full-color albums) and within the generic constraints traditionally associated with the largest publishers (humor and adventure stories for children). The collision of these two forces has resulted in a new form of comics production, often termed la nouvelle bande dessinée.

This paper will examine the implications of la nouvelle bande dessinée, and its impact on comic books as a field of contemporary cultural production. Specifically, this paper will discuss the nexus of cartoonists who have migrated (in full or in part) from the Paris-based artist-run cooperative L'Association to the well-established comics publisher Dargaud (a part of the Média-Participations conglomerate). These cartoonists notably include Lewis Trondheim, Joann Sfar, and David B. I will examine the specific ways that the production of these artists is mobilized to maintain notions of authenticity and legitimacy within the cultural field, and, further, how their position between publishers serves to highlight the dominant divisions in the field as it currently exists, and to problematize questions of cultural value in a historically marginalized cultural field.

«Channels for Expression.
Politically committed publishers : independent and political Publishing in France (1996-2006)

David Douyère / Luc Pinhas
Université Paris 13 – LABSIC - MSH Paris Nord, France

Waiting for abstract

« A large publishing house with respect to the economic environment: La Découverte Publishing »

Camille Joseph
EHESS, Paris, France

>>> Download the communication (French)

In 1983, the French publishing house François Maspero (created in 1959), an independent and politically subversive publishing house, became La Découverte. In 1988, La Découverte was bought out by the Havas group (which became Vivendi Universal Publishing in 2001, and Editis in 2003). La Découverte, whose image is that of a “radical” publishing house, represents an interesting and important case study because it embodies the interplay between the economic and symbolic interests. 

The discourses of the publishers mix two types of contradictory values: disinterestedness and the drive toward economic success. However, the publishers keep insisting on their lack of economic interest. This demonstrates the way in which the ignoring of financial constraints operates as a badge of honour in publishing, as if to emphasise that it is a disinterested profession. 

My paper will try and analyse the way a publishing house belonging to a major financial group cultivates its symbolic image through time. This should give me the opportunity to question the theory according to which the recent period has seen an increasing financial management of publishing houses. By studying the catalogues, I would like to show how one should be careful when measuring the economic constraints and their impacts on editorial choices. My paper will mainly be based on interviews with the publishers, which reveal that the increasing existence of economic principles within their pole of the editorial field necessarily fosters internal struggle for the symbolic power.

«Hachette-Lagardère-Vivendi Universal, 1826-2006 :
almost 200 years at the service of the industrialisation of culture

Karine Taveaux-Grandpierre
Université Paris 13, LABSIC, IUT de Bobigny, France

>>> Download the communication (French)

Hachette, the publishing house, which was created in 1826 and has now become Lagardère-Vivendi-Universal, shows all the stigmata of the culture industries. In particular, the connexion between the publishing pole and the financial and military pole Matra-EADS. We can ask ourselves if the group's international and media diversifications have not led to an impoverishment of the cultural aspects, to the profit of entertainment and financial gain. The financial participation of the group in all the media fields and in the emerging technologies leads to the question of the plurality of the points of view: how can one get information, and therefore think, out of the great groups? Is there not a danger when, from the school textbook to the latest internet magazines, one can access only to a partial information, elaborated and diffused by a group engaged in the military industry? Is there not something new at stake?

In this presentation, we will study from a historical point of view the birth and growth of a publishing house which became an industry of culture in order to survive, creating an ever growing monopoly over all cultural forms. We will ask ourselves if the survival of the name « Hachette » in this group is only a cultural facade, and what strategies are developed in order to reinforce it.