Evening News: Optics, Astronomy, and Journalism in Early Modern Europe

Evening News

Evening News by Naomi Murakawa

Author: Eileen Reeves
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014

Professor of Comparative Literature Eileen Reeves examines a web of connections between journalism, optics and astronomy in early modern Europe, devoting particular attention to the ways in which a long-standing association of reportage with covert surveillance and astrological prediction was altered by the near simultaneous emergence of weekly newsheets, the invention of the Dutch telescope and the appearance of Galileo Galilei’s astronomical treatise, The Starry Messenger.

Early modern news writers and consumers often understood journalistic texts in terms of recent developments in optics and astronomy, Reeves demonstrates, even as many of the first discussions of telescopic phenomena such as planetary satellites, lunar craters, sunspots and comets were conditioned by accounts of current events. She charts how the deployment of particular technologies of vision — the telescope and the camera obscura — were adapted to comply with evolving notions of objectivity, censorship and civic awareness.