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«Spectator»-Type Periodicals in International Perspective

Enlightened Moral Journalism in Europe and North America


Edited By Misia Sophia Doms

As soon as the Spectator model spread from England to continental Europe and began to be incorporated in French, Dutch and German translations and adaptions, the respective journalistic networks and negotiations regularly exceeded local, regional, and even national boundaries and took on international dimensions. The contributions of the present volume outline the historical development and the intricate literary, artistic, journalistic and scientific communication and distribution networks of the moral weeklies and periodical essays inspired by the Spectator prototype in Europe and North America. Thus, these periodicals become visible as parts and products of ramified learned and creative negotiations on genres, writing techniques and topics.

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This volume presents the proceedings of the conference “Spectators in Europe”, which, thanks to generous funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG), was held at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf in December 2016. This international scholarly gathering resulted from the editor’s fundamental conviction that the European and North American cultural heritage of the Spectator-type periodicals deserves to be studied in the form of an international dialogue of experts.

In 1980, the highly talented scholar Fritz Rau laid the foundation for the transnational research on European spectatorial publishing, and that all by himself.1 Since then, however, the European and trans-Atlantic contributions to press and literary history in the Age of Enlightenment, as well as new research in the field of cross-disciplinary 18th-century studies, have produced so many new insights into the content and context of the moral weeklies and periodical essays that it would be impossible for any one individual, however learned he or she may be, to obtain a global overview of this multi-faceted scholarly discourse.

A similar proliferation of information can be observed regarding the sources available. The digitisation efforts of European libraries nowadays provide easy access to a vast amount of spectatorial material which, until recently, had been largely unknown, hidden away among the bookshelves of remote libraries. As a matter of fact, these measures may facilitate both present and future comparative research on the spectatorial press. Yet, the individual scholar intending to study the European spectatorial press can hardly...

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