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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 Kingdom of Denmark-Norway


General Survey

Abstract: The absolutist regime of Denmark-Norway fostered a surprisingly rich flora of spectator journals. From the first translations and original adaptations published in Copenhagen in the 1720s, the genre spread to Norway in the 1770s. Addressing a wide range of readers in Danish, French and German, these journals provided entertainment, spread Enlightenment values and shaped national and local public spheres, in close dialogue with their European counterparts across the continent.

Keywords: Spectator-type periodicals from Denmark-Norway, Danish moral weeklies, Norwegian moral weeklies

Periodicals which followed the journalistic tradition modelled on the prototypical English Spectator (1711–1714) flourished in 18th-century Denmark-Norway. A relatively high number of these moral printings, offering a surprising variety of form and content, were published in the northern – absolutist and Lutheran – periphery of Denmark-Norway during the 18th century. Overall, this development can be explained as a paradoxically productive side effect of the particular censorship conditions at work in the union. Absolutism was introduced in 1660, and with it came a detailed written legal framework for the publication and dissemination of printed material. Printers and booksellers were required to obtain royal privilege and were only allowed to publish and sell texts that had acquired approbation from an official censor. Special restrictions were imposed on the printing of religious, political, and economic material, but also on the publication of news. Ensuring the trustworthiness of news reports was of particular concern to the government, and in 1701 a new censorship instruction was introduced...

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