Reading Newspapers

BookReading Newspapers

Reading Newspapers

Press and Public in Eighteenth-century Britain and America

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2012:03


March 6th, 2012

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In their first century of uninterrupted publication, newspapers reached an all-embracing readership: male and female, noble and artisan, in both town and country. Such was its impact that this seemingly ephemeral product became a collector’s object. In Reading newspapers Uriel Heyd examines this vibrant new print medium and investigates its political, social and cultural implications.
Adopting a comparative approach, the author traces the culture of newspaper reading in Britain and America. Previously unexplored sources such as newspaper indexes and introductions, plays, auction catalogues and a unique newspaper collection assembled and annotated by a Bostonian shopkeeper, provide invaluable access to perceptions of the press, reading practices, and the ever-changing experience of consumers. While newspapers supplied news of immediacy and relevance, their effect transcended the here and now, influencing readers’ perceptions of the age in which they lived and helping to shape historical memory. But the newly found power of this media also gave rise to a certain fear of its ability to exploit or manipulate public opinion. Perceived as vehicles of enlightenment, but also viewed with suspicion, the legacy of eighteenth-century newspapers is still felt today.

Heyd’s combination of old and new techniques – comparative history, geographical specificity, and the study of historical readers – enables a double-barrelled assault on unchallenged twenty-first-century assumptions, demonstrating conclusively that it did not have to be this way.
- SHARP News

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Table of contents6
List of illustrations10
I. Newspapers42
1. The role of the press44
2. Consuming the newspaper94
3. Sorting the newspaper: printer- and reader-compiled indexes122
II. Readers168
4. The newspaper world on stage170
5. Quidnunc: the obsessive reader208
6. The reader as collector: shaping time and space244
Appendix 1: Harbottle Dorr: biographical sketch274
Appendix 2: Classification of index contents278
Appendix 3: Dorr’s index: content categories284