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Storytelling in the Spectators / Storytelling dans les spectateurs

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Edited By Klaus-Dieter Ertler, Yvonne Völkl, Elisabeth Hobisch, Alexandra Fuchs and Hans Fernández

The Spectators, also known as Moral Weeklies, were an important magazine genre which came into being in the early 18th century and which shaped European identity by developing the strategies of critical journalism and by popularizing the ideas and values of the Age of Enlightenment. Investigating modes of storytelling in the Spectators is an important starting point for a paradigmatic investigation of our historical, cultural and philosophical evolution since the Enlightenment and the impact of these magazines on issues of identity in today’s Europe. In this collection on ‹Storytelling in the Spectators›, we present a series of contributions which study English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Czech, Polish and Danish-Norwegian periodicals.

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Society and Sentiment: (Hi)storytelling in Denmark’s Den patriotiske Tilskuer (1761–1763)

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Recent scholarship has changed our understanding of historical writing in the century preceding Leopold von Ranke and the professionalization of history as a scientific discipline. By focusing on a variety of different genres and by widening the range of readers taken into account, scholars of the last two decades have revealed a surprisingly rich trove of eighteenth-century historical writing. Alongside the classic studies by well-known male historians on great public events and personalities, other authors in the eighteenth century, both male and female, produced histories that examined the domestic, private, and emotive spheres of individuals as keys to the past1. “Secret history” was one of the genres that thrived among the growing reading audience, connecting political acts to the private sphere in a way that was often regarded as scandalous by well-established historians. Many of the anonymously published “secret histories” were written by women2. In his study entitled Society and Sentiment. Genres of Historical Writing in Britain 1740–1820, Mark Salber Phillips (2000) demonstrates how during this period various new kinds of historical writing proliferated and responded to the social and sentimental concerns of new audiences, especially in the bourgeoning modern, commercial, middle-class society of Britain. A similar case can be made for other European countries as well, including those in which the middle class and urban culture were less developed. In Scandinavia, for instance, writers of historical narratives, working in “minor” historical genres such as biography and anecdotes, sought to represent the social world of everyday life...

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