University of Erfurt

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt

Projekt von Floris Otto Soleveld M.A.

A public Republic of Letters? New Ways of Criticism and the Changing Role of Scholarly Journals in the early Nineteenth Century

Studies about the early modern ‘Republic of Letters’ generally end around 1750 or with the French Revolution. Though it is clear that the term becomes less frequent after that, very little research has been done about the continuation of infrastructures and practices that constituted the Gelehrtenrepublik as an imagined community. In this research project, I am focussing on the changing role of learned journals in the early 19th century. The British Reviews and Quarterlies, the German Literaturzeitungen, the Revue des deux Mondes et al. continue the old practice of providing a broad, international, trans-disciplinary or pre-disciplinary overview of learning. But they also do something new: they include reviews in essay format, independent essays, and sometimes outspoken programmatic texts. And in Britain and France, they address a wider educated public and position themselves politically.

There are three issues that I wish to address in this research project. The first is the degree to which the learned journals of the early 19th century kept track of learning at large and across national borders. The second issue is finding appeals to the world of learning, to Gelehrte or savants as a group, particularly in the frame of transnational discussions. The third issue is whether there is a change of conceptions and practices of criticism, and to the notion of ‘letters’, correlated to new review formats.

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