New Horizons: Reading Culture in the Media Revolution of the Late Enlightenment

Name of applicant

Jonas Thorup Thomsen




University of Oxford


DKK 900,000



Type of grant

Visiting Fellowships at University of Oxford


1770–1830, a media revolution took place in Denmark that led to an explosion in the available reading material: Newspapers, libraries, and a lively book trade expanded the reading public, but it also segmented the population based on income and social status. Individuals and communities of readers approached different media and had varied reading experiences. Horizons expanded in multiple ways.


To understand the societal change and lasting impact of the Enlightenment it is necessary to examine how mental change took place in practice. How did different groups of people and individuals read? How did they respond to their meeting with new types of media and novel literature? Did knowledge about the wider world expand horizons and enable tolerance? These are important questions to answer.


‘New Horizons’ examines the media revolution on three levels: The overall media environment and its unequal access are charted through newspapers, the book market, and libraries of the period. The media uses of individuals are studied through concrete examples of media use and reading testimonies. The media culture of communities is examined through their reading practices and preferred media.

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