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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 Early Spectatorial Press from the Area of Today’s Germany and Neighbouring Regions


Abstract: A common misconception concerning the early moral weeklies is their allegedly unlimited enthusiasm in terms of what we today would regard as key values of the early Enlightenment. After a general survey on the early weeklies from the area of today’s Germany this article aims for a more differentiating approach by showing that already within the early periodicals we can find certain sceptical or even critical voices, which must also be taken into account in order to fully understand the further development of the genre as a whole.

Keywords: German Spectator-type periodicals, German-language moral weeklies, early spectatorial journalism

General survey

Of all the geographic areas where spectatorial magazines written in the German language were published, the core area of today’s Germany clearly holds the numeric record for most spectatorial projects in print. Particular strongholds of moral weekly printing were the Protestant areas of Northern and Eastern Germany, with cities such as Hamburg and Leipzig.

Starting with Der Vernünfftler (“The Reasonable Man”) by Johann Mattheson, a paper that was in print between 1713 and 1714,1 a large number of German spectatorial magazines appeared in the first half of the 18th century: Among those magazines, which have been classified by Wolfgang Martens as moral weeklies in a strict sense,2 approximately 40 titles were published before 1750. Another 16 periodicals can be added to this number if we also consider those magazines which Martens categorised as moral weeklies in...

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