Evening News: Optics, Astronomy, and Journalism in Early Modern Europe

By Eileen Reeves | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Evening News has sought to explain the convergence of journalism, optics, and astronomy in the early modern period in terms of both particular historical conditions and the reactions of writers and readers to the seeming simultaneity of developments in reportage and natural philosophy. While those circumstances, especially the emergence of the Dutch telescope and of serial news, the avalanche of novel astronomical information, and the looming threat of a pan-European confessional conflict have vanished, remnants of the issues confronted by those early seventeenth-century news consumers are with us still. A brief survey of newspaper names in English and in most European vernaculars—Globe, Sun, World, Star, and even Comet—shows the trace of the lofty cosmological perspective announced in Galileo’s Starry Messenger, Reflector, Mirror, Observer, Examiner, Outlook, and their many French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese analogues emphasize, to varying degrees, the acuity and reasoned analysis some associated with optical projections. Less attuned to the fiction of objectivity, and more reminiscent of the brooding watchfulness so prevalent on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War are titles such as Argus, Eagle, Intelligencer, Sentinel, and Guardian. Names such as Messenger, Courier, and Mercury, all connoting the professional and even preternatural speed of the approaching news bearer, are complemented by the stolid immobility of Recorder, its naturalized equivalent Echo, and its curious mechanical alternative, Pantagraph, this last being both the singular title of a newspaper and a device for copying, reducing, and enlarging images whose inventor was Galileo’s archrival Christoph Scheiner.

More striking still are the many newspapers whose names gesture to antiquated technologies of communication: Herald, Crier, Voix, Post, Mail, Telegram, Telegraph, and, inevitably, Press, Stampa, and Tagblatt. Such obsolescence, once a leisurely signal of longevity, and in some cases, a bid for an evanescent regional flavor defined by the reach of the voice or of local mail services, now seems the symptom of an imploding media landscape. Such are

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Evening News: Optics, Astronomy, and Journalism in Early Modern Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Jesuits on the Moon 29
  • Chapter 2 - Medici Stars and the Medici Regency 57
  • Chapter 3 - Galileo Gazzettante 101
  • Chapter 4 - Cameras That Don’t Lie 135
  • Chapter 5 - Cameras That Do 165
  • Chapter 6 - Rapid Transport 206
  • Conclusion 231
  • Notes 235
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 303
  • Acknowledgments 307
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