Billiken UK Tour, 2019

As part of the Billiken Centenary Project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Dr Lauren Rea has been working alongside Euhen Matarozzo, director of Billiken, as she researches the history of the world’s longest-running children’s magazine. This collaboration not only has been crucial for the research project itself, but it has also generated valuable inputs that are underpinning some of the plans for the future of this heritage brand.

Lauren and Euhen presenting at University of Edinburgh

In June 2019, Lauren Rea and Euhen Matarozzo engaged in a series of conferences and meetings in the United Kingdom with the aim of sharing some of the gems uncovered from the vast Billiken archive and presenting their vision for Billiken beyond its centenary. The first event took place in the University of Edinburgh on 17th June in the frame of the colloquium “Book Culture in Buenos Aires: Growing Readerships”. The talk given by Lauren and Euhen, “Argentina’s Billiken (founded 1919): From Children’s Magazines and Books to Post-Print Culture”, addressed how the magazine’s important literary legacy is being carried through to today’s Billiken as it is re-imagined as a multi-platform product. Lauren and Euhen’s talk linked the academic orientation of the colloquium’s morning sessions to the industry-focussed afternoon. This featured a presentation from Carolina Orloff of Charco Press, an Edinburgh-based publishing house specialising in Latin American literature in translation, and the colloquium’s keynote speech delivered by best-selling Argentine author Claudia Piñeiro.

Queen’s University Belfast

Lauren and Euhen were then invited to give a research seminar at Queen’s University Belfast on 19th June on the history and future of Billiken. The seminar foregrounded the editorial transformations of the magazine through the years and challenges of keeping Billiken relevant in the 21st century.

On 27th and 28th June, Lauren and Euhen participated in the international symposium “Periodicals on the Periphery? Latin American Magazines and Print Culture” held at University College London and co-organised by Lauren along with Claire Lindsey and Maria Chiara d’Argenio of UCL. The symposium brought together researchers from the UK, Chile, Brazil and Argentina and featured keynote addresses by Benjamin Smith (Warwick) and Sandra Szir (Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina). In conversation, Lauren and Euhen reflected on the challenges of working collaboratively and explored how this ‘encounter’ between an academic and a practitioner was working towards transforming Billiken beyond its centenary. As the only non-academic participating in the symposium, Euhen made an invaluable and provocative contribution, foregrounding the context of production of the print cultures analysed by academics.

University College London

On the evening of 28th June, the Argentine Embassy hosted a conference and reception at the Residence of Ambassador Carlos Sersale di Cerisano to commemorate Billiken’s forthcoming centenary. In recognition of the central place that Billiken has occupied in Argentine cultural life over the past one hundred years, Lauren and Euhen were invited to reflect on how Billiken’s historical legacy is informing the plans for its future trajectory and to introduce some of the projects they have been working on together. The event was attended by over 60 members of the public, including media and creative industries professionals and Argentinians resident in the UK. Of Billiken, Ambassador Sersale di Cerisano said: “The fact that the magazine survived all these changes in the world and in our country is an amazing success story, not only for Argentina. It is a national treasure and part of all of our memories as children and parents.”

To finish their tour through the United Kingdom, Lauren and Euhen attended the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield from 2nd to 4th July, holding industry meetings with potential investors and collaborative partners. Reflecting on his visit, Euhen Matarozzo said, “Working with Lauren has helped us to position Billiken for the future. We have rediscovered the spirit of innovation upon which Billiken was founded and are working to ensure that this iconic product endures for another hundred years. My visit to the UK has been a great opportunity to spread the word about Billiken, a great Argentine – and Latin American – cultural institution.”

The Children’s Media Conference at Sheffield

Symposium on Latin American Periodicals, UCL, June 2019

Keynote Speakers

Sandra Szir (Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina)
Benjamin Smith (University of Warwick)

Organisers: Claire Lindsay (UCL), Lauren Rea (University of Sheffield), Maria Chiara D’Argenio (UCL)

In a field of study that has consolidated largely in Anglophone modernist studies, what and how is research being conducted on periodicals that have been produced and published in Latin America?

How are the region’s periodicals regarded as sources of historical knowledge; as material and aesthetic objects; and as pedagogical tools? What are the values attached to them by their creators, readers, and researchers? How are magazines and periodicals in Latin America distinctive from those of/in other parts of the world? And how useful are methodological frameworks developed in Anglophone scholarship in Latin America and vice versa? What are the methodologies and vocabularies that scholars of periodicals can share? How can work in/on Latin America enhance and/or expand emerging paradigms in periodical studies? And what are the differences determined by working on such materials in different disciplines and regions of Latin America?

Considering the periodical as an autonomous object of study as well as a gateway to local and transnational cultures and histories, this conference aims to interrogate ways of reading and researching magazines and periodicals in Latin America: to consider how these heterogeneous, intermedial and serialised forms traverse boundaries between high, middle, and low brow as well as those between nations and between past and present.