Arts Research Seminar

Making a Political Public: Serialized Print News in Early C17th England

Date: Thu 26th Jul 2018 12:00pm-1:00pm

Location: Oorala Lecture Theatre, UNE, Building E22
Contact: Dr Sophia Waters 6773 3318

Presented by Dr Diana Barnes

Over the first half of the seventeenth century, news conveyed in ephemeral popular print genres played an important role in turning its growing print readership into a public. News pamphlets taught individual readers to recognize themselves as members of a public with responsibilities to judge and then take action accordingly. The weekly newspaper, for example, adapted the format of the coranto, popular on the Continent, and the gazette reporting international intelligence to supply regular local political news.

During the Civil War period, that is from the late 1630s, writers, such as Marchamont Nedham and Richard Overton, recognized that they had to create a reading public conscious of its political function. Nedham disseminated political theory—drawn from classical Roman texts, including Cicero and Livy, and contemporary Continental political theory including Bodin and Grotius—in his editorials to instruct readers in the civilities of citizenship. This was supported by the deft manipulation of the technologies of print to effect sympathy and antipathy as required.

This paper will argue that the radical uses to which print news was put during the civil war was predicated upon earlier news publications of the 1620s. It will consider the first serialized English news publications of the 1620s and turn to Ben Jonson’s play The Staple of News (1631) to capture the contemporary debate about news culture as it was developing.

Staff, students and visitors to UNE are all welcome to attend.

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