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Jean-Pierre Vittu

A European system of scientific exchanges in the 18th century : Learned journals

Le Temps des médias n°20, Printemps - été 2013, p. 47-63.


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The number of learned journals in Europe increased substantially in the 18th century and helped in the formation of a distinctive scientific network. Two factors - an analysis of their characteristics (format and pagination, publication, distribution, content), the study of public and private libraries and of the correspondance of the learned - together contribute to a new understanding of their contribution to the Republic of Letters. Gradually spreading out from the centre of Europe to its outlying regions, these periodicals of a distinctive nature developed a complex network of contacts. They fashioned communities of production and exchange at local and trans-national levels with different readerships. These included both the curious and inquisitive, the professional and the erudite, be he literary or scientific ; the first two categories contributed to the development of knowlege, while the all-important last-mentioned used a range of transnational journals for their own strategic ends ; it may well be that the study of the latter could shed new light on the traditional view of the Europe of the Enlightenment.

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