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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 Periodical Essay and the Newspaper in 18th-Century British America


Abstract: This essay traces several of the distinctive qualities of the British-American periodical in the 18th century. While, early in the century, the functions of delivering news and proffering essays separate out in major English periodicals, news and essays not only coexist, but also permeate one another in colonial American newspapers. At the same time, colonial newspapers borrow form and content from metropolitan papers, creating relationships of imitation, appropriation, and parody. Finally, essays series emerge and disappear rapidly, allowing for generic and dialogic dynamism. In examining all of these distinctive features, this essay analyzes the complex interplay between genre and medium.

Keywords: spectatorial influences in British America, colonial American newspapers, dialogue with the Spectator-type press

The most distinctive features of the British-American periodical essay in the first two-thirds or so of 18th century involve the relationship between genre and medium.

One major difference between the Spectator-style periodical essay in England and British-America is that the colonial periodical essay does not leave the newspaper, and does not even entirely separate out from the functions of purveying and commenting on news. In addition to occasional poems, speeches of colonial assemblies, advertisements, essays, and notices, colonial newspapers printed news items from the colonies, the metropole, and everywhere else. For this reason, libraries and archives still tend to refer to the principal organs of the colonial American periodical essay as newspapers, not periodicals. Consequently, in 18th-century America, news and Spectator-style essays remained in dialogue – to begin...

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