“This Important War”: The American Revolution And History-Writing In Eighteenth-Century Göttingen / “This Seems To Be A Prelude”: Editorial Creativity In Johann Christoph Saur’s Pensylvanische Berichte, 1739-1755
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Nicholas S Popper
“This important war”: The American Revolution and History-Writing in Eighteenth-Century Göttingen This first essay looks at the process of history-writing during the Age of Revolutions in eighteenth-century Göttingen, a vibrant university town which played host to some of German-speaking Europe’s greatest minds, but which also found itself tethered to the cameralist bureaucracy of the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, otherwise known as the Electorate of Hanover, and thus fell under the jurisdiction of the British monarchy. Years before revolution broke out in France, the war in America was recognized by contemporary German-speakers as an event of immense political consequence. As Britain’s colonies in North America became restless in the 1760s and 1770s, and news about the incipient unrest began to trickle into Europe, Göttingen’s intellectuals became increasingly ambivalent about how to react to the conflict in America. A survey of the University of Göttingen’s official scholarly publication, the Göttingische Gelehrten Anzeigen, supplemented by book reviews in other Göttingen-based publications and ephemera, shows how the writing of history took on a distinctly overt political character in the late-eighteenth century, as intellectuals found themselves unable to come to a consensus about the meaning of the war in Britain’s colonies, leading to a crisis of interpretation that heralded the advent of modernity itself. “This seems to be a prelude”: Editorial Creativity in Johann Christoph Saur’s Pensylvanische Berichte, 1739-1755 This second essay analyzes English-German processes of news compilation and foreign news circulation in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Johann Christoph Saur was the editor and printer of Colonial America’s most successful German-language newspaper prior to the Revolution, the Pensylvanische Berichte, which began its first print run in 1739 and ran continuously until the destruction of the Saur printing house during the Battle of Germantown. By tracing and comparing how foreign news paragraphs (a commonly overlooked section of colonial-era newspapers) were translated and appropriated by Saur in his widely-circulated newspaper, we see how Saur was able to propagate an alternative political vision for the nation in the tumultuous decades leading up to the Seven Years’ War. Saur as printer could speak politically in ways that his English-speaking counterparts in the Colonies could not until much later (e.g., from the 1760s). More broadly, this paper meditates on the importance of language within the British Empire, and how non-English-speakers navigated life within the imperial boundaries of a foreign power.
© The Author
Merriman, Jennifer A., "“This Important War”: The American Revolution And History-Writing In Eighteenth-Century Göttingen / “This Seems To Be A Prelude”: Editorial Creativity In Johann Christoph Saur’s Pensylvanische Berichte, 1739-1755" (2023). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. William & Mary. Paper 1697552581.
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