Periodical Publication and the Nature of Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Europe

  • Jeremy D. Popkin
Part of the Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 124)


Can one truly maintain that the mere fact of publication in continuing serial form, as distinguished from any other method of collecting and disseminating information, is enough to constitute a distinct “form of knowledge?” Is this not merely confusing the container—the form of publication—with the thing contained? It would be difficult to find any specimen of eighteenth-century knowledge published in a periodical that was not also circulated at the time in letters, in printed books, and, of course, in oral discussion. There will no doubt be many who will argue that historians of ideas should put aside the question of the medium in which knowledge was communicated and concentrate on the real issue, namely, the content itself. This is the procedure we expect when we open a scholarly work with a title such as Diderot’s Metaphysics or Voltaire’s Politics: if the venue of publication of the ideas discussed in such a study is treated as an issue, it is normally only in order to determine whether censorship could be considered to have limited the expression of the author’s “true” views.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Intellectual Life Early Modern Period Periodical Publication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (Toronto 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jean-Antoirie-Nicolas Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain (Paris, 1988), 187–191.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1979), 1: 72, 124–125.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Roger Chartier, “L’Ancien régime typographique: Refléxions sur quelques travaux récents,” in Annales E.S.C. 36 (1981), 206.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Pierre Rétat, “Les gazettes: de l’événement à l’histoire,” in Etudes sur la presse 3 (1978), 28.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Joachim Kirchner, Das Deutsche Zeitschriftenwesen, 2 vols. (Wiesbaden, 1958, 1962), 1:32–33.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Margot Lindemann, Deutsche Presse bis 1815 (Berlin, 1969), 187.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Hans Mattauch, Die literarische Kritik der frühen französischen Zeitschriften (1665-1748) (Munich, 1968).Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Harvey J. Graff, The Legacies of Literacy (Bloomington, Ind., 1987).Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    Rolf Engelsing, Der Bürger als Leser. Lesergeschichte in Deutschland, 1500-1800 (Stuttgart, 1974).Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    Robert Darnton, “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensibility,” in The Great Cat Massacre (New York, 1985), 249–251.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Raymond F. Birn, Pierre Rousseau and the Philosophes of Bouillon (Geneva, 1964).Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    Michel Albaric, “Un page d’histoire de la presse clandestine: ’Les Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques’ 1728-1803,” in Revue française d’histoire du livre 10 (1980), 319–332.Google Scholar
  14. 24.
    Delisle de Sales, Essai sur le Journalisme depuis 1735 jusqu’à l’an 1800 (Geneva, 1971) (orig. 1811), 44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy D. Popkin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations