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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]


"They {Newspapers} are made flat. There is nothing you can dominate as easily as a flat surface of a few square meters." (Latour, 19)

The Mosaic

"It is thus neccessary to state at once that 'human interest' is a technical term meaning that which happens when multiple book pages or multiple information items are arranged in a mosaic on one sheet... the Press is a group confessional form that provides communal participation. It can 'color' events by using them or by not using them at all. But it is the daily communal exposure of multiple items in juxtaposition that gives the press its complex dimensions of human interest... These news magazines are preeminently mosaic in form, offering not windows into the world like the old picture magazines, but presenting corporate images of society in action." -McLuhan 276

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When dealing with a standard mosaic-format newsweekly such as the Providence Phoenix, in which commentary on the current presidential election appears alongside movie listings, adult advertisements, and local Rhode Island interest stories, it is easy to claim that the paper is a hodgepodge of unrelated pieces. However, each issue has a singular unifying characteristic that ties all of its pieces into a neat bundle: the date printed directly below the red lettering of "Phoenix."

In Reflections on the Organic Spread of Nationalism, author Benedict Anderson points to the significance of the date on a newspaper: "The date at the top of the newspaper, the single most important emblem on it, provides the essential connection -- the steady onward clocking of homogenous, empty time." (Anderson, 33) It is the "calendrical coincidence" of which Anderson speaks that unifies the articles and advertisements in a given issue of the Phoenix. A singular issue of the newsweekly becomes a small piece of a larger timeline, an archival piece in the larger history of the Providence community.

Parse the Phoenix down into smaller pieces, and the mosaic seems immediately less complex:


The News: Working our way from front (cover) to back

Pullout 1: Arts and Entertainment

Pullout 2: Adult

Miscellaneous: Getting 'Joe Providence' in print

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