Inside and outside the “magic box”. Images of television as a new medium in the Italian children’s magazine “Corriere dei Piccoli” (1954-1971)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The Italian state television channel started broadcasting in 1954. Watching the evening programs was initially a communal experience that took place in bars and private houses. By 1974, 92% of families owned a TV: watching TV had become a normal and more private activity. This research aims to show how TV was presented in the “Corriere dei Piccoli” from 1954 to 1971, after which the magazine changed dramatically. Founded in 1908, this publication was the first Italian weekly comic, and sold nearly 400,000 copies per week in the fifties and sixties. Under the direction of Gaetano Mosca (1952-1961) the magazine, influenced by Catholicism and nationalism, took a traditional view of television, attributing a purely educational aim to it. The new medium was seen as a potential source of distraction from homework and study and as a rather boring, although at the same time somewhat desirable, object. There was an ambivalent attitude towards TV: it could be dangerous but it could also fascinate. This strange object, that enabled you to see far-away places and people, inspired a high level of curiosity. This “amazing image box” was a mysterious, almost magical thing, viewed with suspicion and curiosity for years until it became familiar. There were a lot of cartoons or little stories about what was actually inside the “magic box”. The lack of understanding of how TV was able to show images, places and people, and the emotions stirred by what viewers saw, made it a sort of magical medium that could link different places. TV became a window on a parallel world or on far-flung places. The concepts of inside and outside were shattered: illusion and reality became blurred, with remote places existing inside the TV and therefore near the viewers. The function of the aerial was puzzling and magical too. The communal viewing of TV programs (in bars and living rooms) created a shared space for common emotions. All this was represented in the pages of the “Corriere dei Piccoli” until Gugliemo Zucconi became editor in 1961. An expert on TV and radio programs, Zucconi revolutionised the magazine’s approach in his three years in charge. He explained to children in a clear and enjoyable way how TV worked, from both a scientific and a journalistic point of view. He showed what really happened behind the scenes of programs and inside the box. He gave space to TV programs and characters whom children loved. When he was replaced by Carlo Triberti in 1963 however, these innovative traits ceased. The space devoted to TV was drastically reduced in favour of comic strips, not only because Triberti was not interested in TV, but also because TV had become a routine part of everyday life. This research has been conducted by reviewing all the weekly editions from 1954 to 1971.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISCHE 41, Spaces and places of education, Book of Abstract
Pages437-438
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventISCHE 41 - Porto
Duration: 16 Jul 201920 Jul 2019

Conference

ConferenceISCHE 41
CityPorto
Period16/7/1920/7/19

Keywords

  • Italy
  • children’s literature
  • television
  • visual education

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