Eighteenth-Century Periodicals as Agents of Change

Perspectives on Northern Enlightenment


Periodicals were an essential medium during eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The era’s growing number of newspapers and journals made possible a fast and vast dissemination of ideas and debates. Journals were a particularly important means of transmitting ideas, genres, texts, and pieces of information from country to country, from centre to periphery, and from press to subscribers. These journals became agents of change by mediating the increasingly profound and widespread urge to write and read and to engage in political debate.

This volume, edited by Ellen Krefting, Aina Nøding and Mona Ringvej, presents contributions that explore this media revolution from a Northern perspective. The chapters throw new light on the reception of Enlightenment ideas and practices in Denmark–Norway, Sweden–Finland, and beyond. Taken together, they make a strong case for the transnational and revolutionary character of the Enlightenment as a whole.
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Biographical Note

Ellen Krefting, Ph.D. (2005), University of Oslo, is Associate Professor in the History of Ideas at the Department of philosophy, classics, history of art and ideas (IFIKK), University of Oslo (Norway). She has published on 17th and 18th century intellectual history and media history in Europe and Denmark-Norway.

Aina Nøding, Ph.D. (2007), University of Oslo, is Research Fellow in Scandinavian Literature, University of Bergen. Her work includes publications on book history and media history in Denmark and Norway (1700–1900), and scholarly commentaries on Henrik Ibsen’s and Ludvig Holberg’s writings.

Mona Ringvej, Ph.D. (2004), University of Oslo, is an historian and editor. Her scholarly work includes publications on ancient political and cultural history, eighteenth- and nineteenth century political theory in Europe and press history in Denmark-Norway.

Review Quotes

“brilliant essays […]. This excellent collection should be read by anyone interested in Enlightenment thought and society”.
Philipp Reisner, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. In: Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 47, No. 4 (2016), pp. 1045-1047.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations and Figures
List of Contributors

Ellen Krefting, Aina Nøding and Mona Ringvej

Section I: International transfers
Chapter 1
“Northern varieties: Contrasting the Dano-Norwegian and the Swedish-Finnish Enlightenments”
Jonathan Israel

Chapter 2
“For the laity, as well as for the learned: Some themes and structures in the system of early modern learned periodicals”
Ingemar Oscarsson

Chapter 3
“The editor as scout: The rapid mediation of international texts in provincial journals”
Aina Nøding

Chapter 4
“Struensee in Britain: The Interpretation of the Struensee Affair in British periodicals, 1772”
Merethe Roos

Chapter 5
“Transferring propaganda: Gustavian politics in two Göttingen journals”
Mathias Persson

Section II: Political transfers
Chapter 6
“Big theories and humble realities: Censorship and public opinion in the eighteenth century”
Edoardo Tortarolo

Chapter 7
“To rule is to communicate: The absolutist system of political communication in Denmark-Norway 1660-1750”
Jakob Maliks

Chapter 8
“The urge to write: Spectator journalists negotiating freedom of the press in Denmark–Norway”
Ellen Krefting

Chapter 9
“Developing a new political text culture in Denmark-Norway 1770–1799”
Kjell Lars Berge

Chapter 10
“How to criticize governmental policy without freedom of the press in late eighteenth-century Denmark–Norway”
Hilde Sandvik

Chapter 11
“Legislators, journals, and the public legal sphere in Scandinavia around 1800”
Dag Michalsen

Section III: Theatrical transfers
Chapter 12
"Theatre, patriotism, and politics in Denmark–Norway, 1772‒1814”
Anette Storli Andersen

Chapter 13
“The politics of passion: Absolutism, opera, and critique in Gustavian Sweden”
Erling Sandmo

Chapter 14
“Bowing deeply without tipping over: The theatrical panegyrics of absolutism”
Mona Ringvej

Chapter 15
“Paradigms of criticism in the eighteenth century: Some considerations concerning publicity and secrecy”
Eivind Tjønneland

Section V: Digital transfers
Chapter 16
“Research-driven collaborative metadata collection: Indexing and digitizing Norwegian periodicals, 1700–1820”
Hege Stensrud Høsøien

Chapter 17
“Indexing the Enlightenment: Remarks on digital and international transfers in eighteenth-century periodicals”
Flemming Schock



All interested in the Enlightenment, periodicals and censorship in Northern Europe, Scandinavian history and media history.


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