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«Spectator»-Type Periodicals in International Perspective

Enlightened Moral Journalism in Europe and North America

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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 Riga

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Abstract: The present article will look at the two Spectator-type periodicals which were published in Riga during the 1730s and 1740s: Die Vernünfftige Einsamkeit and Der ruhige Bemercker Menschlicher Handlungen. Both moral weeklies clearly adopted patterns of the German weekly tradition.

Keywords: Spectator-type periodicals in the Russian Empire, moral weeklies from Livonia, moral weeklies from Couronia

Regarding its local press landscape in the 17th and early 18th centuries, the Baltic area may rightfully be described as a veritable desert: The only journalistic writing published earlier than the spectatorial magazines that are the focus of the present article was a newspaper called Rigische Novellen (“Novellas from Riga”; 1680–1710).1 It was established by the Swedish government as a propaganda and censorship instrument in the years of the Great Northern War (1700–1721) in the hope of controlling the flow of information entering the city of Riga.2 The fact that moral weeklies were the very first type of periodical to be printed in the Baltic area is an indication of their irresistible popularity in those years.

In the Baltics, there existed three periodicals in total which may be accurately classified as spectatorial writings in the strict sense of the German Moralische Wochenschriften (moral weklies), as established by Wolfgang Martens:3 Like other representatives of this particular genre of magazines, they are dominated by one (or several) fictitious weekly editor(s) and each issue offers a discussion of at least one fundamental moral...

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