PROJECT: Mediate: Identifying the Real Bestsellers of the 18th Century

Eleanor Shevlin (West Chester University of Pennsylvania) has written a post for the Early Modern Online Bibliography (EMOB) blog introducing Mediate, a project based at Radboud University and led by Prof. Alicia C. Montoya.

As Shevlin explains, “While prior lenses for studying the Enlightenment have focused on either the canonical, history-of-ideas texts or the forbidden, underground works of the time, Mediate aims to study the middlebrow bestsellers and their overlooked role in shaping the Enlightenment.”

From the project’s description:

Developing an interoperative, state-of-the-art database, the MEDIATE project will, firstly, identify not the “high” Enlightenment texts studied by the history of ideas, and not the “low”, forbidden texts of book history, but the real bestsellers of the 18th century. To do so, it will create a fully searchable database of eighteenth-century library auction catalogues, in close collaboration with other existing historical bibliometric databases.

Secondly, it will elaborate a typology of this corpus describing its generic traits, intended readers, relation to major political and religious debates, and how readers in different parts of Europe appropriated these texts through translations, reworkings and other uses. Finally, the project examines how historiography came to define the Enlightenment as the work of an intellectual elite, downplaying the impact of middlebrow texts and readers.


dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between​ Gayle Fischer, Stephen Lingrell, Anna Newman, Kelley Rowan, Chelcie Rowell​, and Ashley Zengerski ​(Editors-at-large for the week), Roxanne Shirazi (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Caro Pinto and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).