Empire's mastheads: Rewriting the "correspondents' war" from the edge of empire

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Abstract

This essay recovers a forgotten moment in the print culture history of US empire by examining a handful of newspapers and periodicals-American Soldier, Manila Outpost, Soldier's Letter, Co. F Enterprise, and Volunteer-that were founded and written by and for US soldiers in the Philippines and Cuba. Unlike their more famous stateside counterparts who produced the "correspondents' war" and trafficked in national culture's romantic sensationalism, soldier-correspondents mapped the everyday culture of their imperial community, reporting on ordinary, everyday events of daily life in the imperial outpost like baseball games, debate clubs, popular barbers, robberies, sanitation violations, mail deliveries, and local advertisements. Such publications revise and remediate the dominant romantic ideology of empire at the turn of the century, creating an imagined community of empire far different from that produced by the "correspondents' war." Revising the romantic paradigm into an alternative narrative of everyday habit, ordinary routine, and mundane desire, soldier-newspapers produce a flat account of empire that endows the project of empire-building with a sense of the mundane and the nonheroic. This quotidianizing of empire not only conceals the violent realities of imperial encounter behind the dull shimmer of newsprint, but also remodels the romantic spaces of the public's imperial imagination into the familiar spaces of everyday life, a process that normalizes empire as a way of life for soldiers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Transnational American Studies
Volume3
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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