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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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The Spectatorial Press from the Holy Roman Empire.


Introductory Reflections

Abstract: The largest body of spectatorial writings in Europe, the German-language moral weeklies, have for a long time been neglected in academia. The introductory reflections aim to establish the reasons for this gap in research. They outline the characteristics of the German weeklies as described by Wolfgang Martens and the paradoxes inherent in this catalogue of genre criteria against the background of German Enlightenment philosophy.

Keywords: German Spectator-type periodicals, German-language moral weeklies, spectatorial genre criteria

The German-language moral weeklies can be counted among the most important media to appear in the Habsburg Empire in the 18th century. Considering the current state of research1 on the subject, this proposition may sound like an exaggeration – for if it were true, then how could it have taken academics in the humanities so long to recognise this fact? The answer to this question is actually quite simple. It seems like they have only recently acquired and developed both the intellectual and technological resources necessary to appropriately deal with the subject matter in question. This assertion obviously needs some clarification. This introduction attempts to provide such explanations by focussing specifically on the history and the preconditions of academic research on moral weekly periodicals.2

The history of modern research on the topic begins with a rather harsh verdict by Joachim Kirchner, who wrote the first voluminous monograph on German periodicals, which was published in 1942/1958. Discussing the genesis and development of the Spectator-type periodicals, Kirchner speaks...

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