Between History and Periodicity: Printed and Hand-Written News in 18th-Century Portugal

André Belo
11 páginas

What news became printed news in 18th-century Portugal? How was information conceived, exchanged and read? Drawing on Ph.D. research, this paper attempts to make sense of the most important Portuguese periodical printed during the first half of the 18th century: the Lisbon gazette, called Gazeta de Lisboa. The analysis is undertaken from a comparative perspective, considering the Portuguese gazette as part of an intertextual European whole. The paper will concentrate on two particular aspects: in the first place, the production of the Gazeta as “literary genre” from the point of view of its editor, stressing the affinities between the writing of the news and the task of the historian’s analysis. This will lead us to the periodical’s main paradox: information about events occurring in the present was somehow systematically devalued.

Historical discourse was also present in the hand-written newspapers that circulated in Portugal in the same period. Together with the information transmitted by simple letters, manuscript periodicals, possessing a title and a regular date of issue, played a major role in the exchange of information in the 18th century, circulating within the same networks as the printed periodical press. I will show that, rather than speak of possible conflict, we should speak of the complementary roles of these two media. In the end, beyond the surface of the written text, there lies a complex landscape of social relations involved with information.