The American Journalism Historians Association awarded Elisabeth Fondren, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Journalism in the Division of Mass Communication at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, a 2020 Joseph McKerns Research Grant to support her ongoing research on twentieth-century journalism and propaganda history.
Dr. Fondren’s project is titled “A Story of Words with No Action: Propaganda, Peacemaking, and Publicity Campaigns at the Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920).” She was recognized at the AJHA’s virtual 2020 National Convention held on October 2–3.
“My comparative study explores how propaganda ideas and techniques from the Great War—the first modern mass propaganda war—informed states’ campaigns during the Paris Peace Conference,” she explained, “as well as the press’ growing skepticism and discourse around the expectations (and limitations) of what propaganda and mass publicity could do.”
Dr. Fondren will use the Joseph McKerns Grant to support her travel to access historical archives. She plans to analyze archival records, the propaganda campaigns of delegations, and news coverage of international correspondents at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Library and Archives.
“Using primary sources, I am interested to investigate the tepid interactions between post-World War I propagandists and journalists,” she said. “During and after the conflict, most states were aggressively developing their propaganda proficiency. At the Paris Peace talks, when governments tried to use publicity to broker world peace, there was much criticism in the press.”
At St. John’s, Dr. Fondren teaches print/online news writing, journalism history, and international reporting. Her scholarship focuses on the history of international journalism, government propaganda, military-media relations, and censorship during wartime.