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Question and Answer Practice in the Periodical Press of the 17th and Early 18th Centuries

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Anita Traninger

The focus of attention in the current funding phase is the participatory aspects of the republic of letters that can be observed in the medium of the emerging periodical press. The journals, a new medium of the seventeenth century, staged an (albeit quite often fictitious) conversation with their readers. They submitted questions for readers to answer by writing in, from moral philosophical dilemmas and collectively debated scholarly problems to aesthetic questions. Up until now, the project has been concerned with the either-or-question that informs both the dialectical quaestio and the rhetorical genus demonstrativum. Now, another traditional type of question is brought to the fore: that of the question-and-answer dialogue. It harkened back to, among others, Cicero’s Partitiones oratoriae and enjoyed a vast popularity across the discursive fields of early modernity, from the academic textbook to the catechism. Approaching the theme within the broader history of knowledge, the project will trace and contextualize how this type of questioning fared in the emerging printed press.