Call for papers

The Gesellschaft für Buchforschung in Österreich and the Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts in Österreich are pleased to invite you to a conference on “Communication and information in the 18th century: the Habsburg Monarchy”.
The Conference will take place from 26 to 28 April, 2007, at the Austrian National Library in Vienna.

The Habsburg Monarchy held a key position in Europe of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Within the vast territory, there were different nationalities and ethnic groups with their many and varied languages, religions and cultural traditions. Indeed, these are precisely the things which distinguish the Habsburg Monarchy from other European states with a more or less homogenous population.
During the 18th century, the absolutist state, which the Monarchy was, implemented a series of measures aimed at consolidating and modernizing the empire. Promoting the book and publishing trade was indeed a key ingredient in the programme of reforms which Ernst Wangermann has aptly described as “the Austrian Achievement”. Within the short space of a few decades, the number of firms as well as actual book production increased by leaps and bounds.
The history of the book and publishing trade, which was almost solely responsible for the spread of information, knowledge and education, has been widely neglected by Austrian scholars of the Enlightenment. The aim of the conference “Communication and information in the 18th century: the Habsburg Monarchy” is to illuminate the history of the empire and focus in particular on the trans-national and multilingual character of book production. Of special interest are the reception, distribution and suppression of literature of the Enlightenment in the Austrian monarchy.
Proposals for papers (not more than 400 words) should be sent by normal mail or by electronic mail together with a brief CV containing information on field of research and publications to the following address. Deadline is 30 November, 2006.

Johannes Frimmel & Michael Wögerbauer
Abteilung für Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Universität Wien
Berggasse 11/5
A-1090 Vienna


The papers (length 20 min., conference languages: German, English, French) should feature one or more of the following aspects pertaining to the communication function of the book, especially in comparison with developments in other countries.

1. Concepts and conditions for writing

- aristocracy and free writers; lack of copyright protection; the book piracy debate.

2. Production of books, newspapers and periodicals

– state promotion (privileges), companies active at the local and regional level

– Oriental and Hebrew prints; works in foreign languages; translations

– Technical prerequisites (paper production, printing presses)

– bibliographical data and statistics

3. Distribution: Book selling, antiquarian book-sellers, auctions, book binders, sales at markets

– book trade links within the Monarchy; outside links (e.g. southern Germany; Leipzig Fair, etc.) commissioners, circulation of manuscripts

– shipment of books and duration, customs boundaries and excise taxes

– the beginnings of booksellers’ organizations; beginnings of Book History.

4. The Dissemination of Information

– Institutions (schools, clerics, universities, free-mason lodges); travel; book reviews; links to theatre, music and the arts

– Nature and scope of the political information

– Censorship (system of restricted access to printed works; evasion of censorship through smuggling, and clandestine literature)

5. Access to reading material

– Promotion of literacy according to regions; public and private libraries; the literary canon and most widely read literature; the cost of books; cost of periodicals in relation to income

– Reading and writing (implementation of state norms, continuation of oral traditions; the popular approach to reading and writing)

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