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Early Modern News and Information Culture

Early Modern News and Information Culture


Dr D.H. (Djoeke) van Netten

Faculty of Humanities

Capaciteitsgroep Geschiedenis

Members of the research group

E.J. (Esther) Baakman MA LLM (UL)

R.M. (Rosanne) Baars MA

T.V.C. (Tiffany) Bousard (UL)

dr. M. (Michiel) van Groesen (UL)

dr. H.J. (Helmer) Helmers

prof. dr. G.H. (Geert) Janssen

dr. D.H. (Djoeke) van Netten

> H. (Hanna) de Lange, MA


The history of news and information is one of the most burgeoning fields of historical scholarship today. This research group focuses on the Low Countries as one of the main information hubs of early modern Europe and the Atlantic world. The Dutch Republic’s relatively tolerant religious and ideological climate attracted authors and free thinkers, while its extensive trade network ensured that newspapers, pamphlets, prints, maps, and scientific treatises published here were certain to make an impact across the continent. In the adjacent political cultures of the Southern Netherlands, France, England and the Holy Roman Empire, the vibrant Dutch discussion culture influenced the circulation of political and religious information. For this reason, the research group defines early modern news and information culture in its broadest possible terms, as a multimedia experience that was shaped by the ever-changing dynamic between opinion-makers and readers both at home and abroad, and extended from secrecy to satire. Anticipation for good news was particularly high: hopes for the future determined the concerns of the early modern print media. Journalists and information managers faced the daunting task of solving the discrepancy between the continuous supply of rumours and news and a regular demand for reliable information, printing everything that was fit to print without losing either their credibility or their customers.

Achievements and envisaged results

The Early Modern News and Information Culture group convenes several times a year. It provides an intellectual home to 1 NWO Vidi project, 2 NWO Veni projects, and 1 NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen project. Individually as well as (at times) collectively, the group expects to organize workshops and conferences, and publish articles in scholarly journals, monographs, and doctoral dissertations (eg. on sixteenth-century Franco-Dutch news networks, and Atlantic news in the Northern and Southern Netherlands). Members of the group will continue to apply for research grants both from NWO and from international funding bodies (ERC, HERA). Recent activities include a symposium on ‘The Newspaper in the Golden Age’. (Forthcoming) publications can be found on the webpages of the individual group members.


In April 2017 the exhibition ‘The world according to Blaeu’ in the Maritime Museum Amsterdam, curated by Van Netten, opened. Several others of the research group not only where present at the opening, but also had thought along and inspired this (especially Baars and Van Groesen). [NB: for this Van Netten was granted the ASH valorization award 2017]

A Trompe l’Oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board - Edward Collier, c.1699