When trying to understand the everyday workings of people in the Early Modern Period, one must widen the focus of sources one was initially going to work with. I at some point during my studies of the Early Modern German newspaper became interested in the breeding of livestock as I found a few news items on how exceptionally well horses bred in Augsburg were. The search for contemporary sources made me stumble over a work by the Augsburg publisher Heinrich Steiner and I soon found myself reading the entire source instead of just trying to extract that one detail I was interested in. And it turned out to be a fantastic find.
Early last week, on 16 &17 November, incunabula expert Falk Eisermann visited St Andrews to give a two-day workshop on early printed books in Europe. Dr Eisermann is head of the incunabula division at the Berlin State Library since 2007 and enjoys an outstanding reputation amongst scholars of early printed books.
The workshop with the theme Illuminating Incunabula – What we can learn from early printed books addressed various issues such as describing incunabula, finding information in catalogues and online tools and – most importantly – working with rare books in hand. The workshop brought together 15 participants who learned about terminology and digital tools for the work with incunabula. St Andrews holds around 160 of these early books printed before 1501 and the library has finished cataloguing all items held across various named collections in 2012 . For the workshop Eisermann picked a selection of 20 outstanding copies that he discussed with the participants over the course of two days. Continue reading
On 11 December 2014, a group of around thirty doctoral students of book history met at the University of Stirling for the first History of Reading workshop, led by Catherine Halsey (Stirling) and Daniel Cook (Dundee). I got intrigued by the chance of partaking in a discussion on how to study the history of reading; especially of ephemeral material such as newspapers in the seventeenth century.
On 1 January 2015, Kurt Koszyk, professor for media studies and journalism died aged 85. Koszyk was one of the most established in German media and journalism studies. His career entailed the foundation of the journalism studies programme at the University of Dortmund in 1977. Notably, he served as head of the Institute for Newspaper Studies in Dortmund where he coordinated the collection of German newspapers on microfilm, resulting in putting together alongside the collection in Bremen the most comprehensive collection of newspapers on microfilm in Germany.
Now after a year of working on the German newspapers, I have finished the full descriptions of the first half of the century. As per usuall, many peculiarities were found and more questions remain to be answered. One of them has to do with historic place names. Newspapers often report the last occurrences from very small towns and settlements and with shifting political boundaries mainly in the western part of Eastern Europe in the regions of Bohemia, Silesia, Lusatia, and Prussia, it is very unclear to which places the headlines make a reference to. Often, reading the news report will reveal the area where the news originated from and laborious search in the Czech Old Maps project and Walter Sperling´s Geographische Namen in den böhmischen Ländern has helped to solve some of the toponymic brain-twisters, yet others remain unclear.
With the development of the bibliography comes the advantage of getting a clearer view on statistical aspects of newspaper publishing in Germany between 1609 and 1650. This post seeks to highlight some of the findings concerning the dimension of overall numbers of published titles, the frequency of places of correspondence and the average number of reports in an issue.
Furthermore, two case studies can enlighten practices of reporting regional news. The first study examines how news from Britain made it into the German newspapers and shows, that the majority of reports was brought to the Low Countries and made it into the system of correspondence in cities such as Amsterdam, The Hague and Dunkirk. Secondly, situated right in the heart of the Holy Roman Empire, Franconia is one of the commercial and cultural focal points of Early Modern Germany. The data gathered from the inspection of surviving copies shows how tight the net of correspondents that existed throughout the region, enabling readers to find out about events from more than 20 towns.
The full poster can be downloaded here.
June 18-20, 2014 – University of Amsterdam
Wednesday 18 June
Jacob Soll (University of Southern California) – Early Modern News Between Public and Secret Spheres
Arbeitet man sich in den Forschungsstand zur Presseillustration ein wird rasch deutlich, dass sich ein Großteil der Arbeiten mit der Pressefotografie und ihrem dokumentarischen Charakter beschäftigen. Es sind vor allem berufsethische und kunsthistorische Aspekte die thematisiert werden. Der Gebrauch der Bilder in den frühen Zeitungen und deren Vorläufern ist der Forschung jedoch nicht entgangen. So konstatiert beispielsweise Helmut Lang mit Blick auf die nicht-periodische Neue Zeitung „Der Aufmacher, die Überschrift, die Illustration, das Impressum, der Straßenverkauf – alles Merkmale der Neuen Zeitung – wurden von der periodischen Presse jahrhundertelang nicht angewandt und mußten im 19. Jahrhundert erfunden werden“ (Lang 1987. S. 57). En Detail studiert wurden die frühen Illustrierten allerdings nicht.
It has been a while since I last went to a conference to present some of the findings of my research. But soon it is time to return to Germany to take part in the event organized by the DGPuk – the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. I am going to present some conclusions on illustrating Early Modern newspaper and present a case study of Thomas von Wiering’s „Türckis. Estats- und Krieges-Bericht“
The entire programme and information and registration can be found here
There is a number of interesting journals that constantly provide interesting articles for historical media research and certainly one of the mandatory reads for every media historian dealing with the newspaper is Media History. The last issue, published 7 January 2014 deals exclusively with the topic of digitised newspaper copies, something that has been discussed in this blog earlier. The issue features articles from scholars and users of digital newspaper archives and also those who create these repositories.
Newspaper in Sweden
As the period of my archival and library travels is starting, I thought it would be nice to give an insight and clues about where to find 17th century newspaper and how to work with them. My fist trip brought me in middle of November to Stockholm where I was to work with the newspaper holdings of the Kungliga bibliotekt. Situated right in the middle of the historic Östermalm district in the Swedish capital, this legal deposit library holds around 20 million books in Swedish and the personal archive of notable Swedes such as Astrid Lindgren, August Strindberg and Dag Hammarskjöld. But there is more to find for a historian interested in the history of the newspaper.
Unlike the last post, this one is going to be a more puzzling than revealing. After starting to go deeper into the coverage of Dutch newspapers for the last three weeks, I found a number of reports that I could not make sense of. Sometimes the lack of context information makes the news hard to understand. However, in a number of cases the place name of the news present difficulties. As someone who is more familiar (and comfortable) with reading today´s Dutch, the written language of the seventeenth century seems to differ in a number of cases that make a simple google search for a place name redundant. In the hope, that perhaps some of the readers can make sense of the place names, I have collected and displayed here all the news that I cannot make any sense of in terms localizing the individual places. I decided to turn to follower power on these cases: if you can help out with any of these place please get in contact via the comments section or at email@example.com