Approaching the Journal des Sçavans, 1665–1695: a manual analysis of thematic structure

Abstract : The Journal des Sçavans was the first academic journal to appear. The first issue was published in Paris in January 1665. It was edited by Denis de Sallo at the instigation of Louis XIV’s first minister, Colbert, whose objective was the state control of new knowledge. This study is based on a sample of texts from the Journal des Sçavans for the period 1665–1696 totalling approximately 66,000 words. These texts are available on Internet, but only in image form, so they are distinctly non-digital and not amenable to computer analysis; this paper gives a manual analysis of thematic structure as a way of showing that manual analysis can provide interesting and significant results. This analysis shows that 73% of themes function as grammatical subject (rather less than might be expected), and 22% as circumstantial adjunct (rather more than might be expected); 52% of the latter are clausal in form. Ranking clauses frequently have a textual theme (29%), but only rarely an interpersonal theme (3%). Reference to humans other than the author account for 37% of topical themes and constitute the largest semantic group. These are usually the author of a book under review or a person mentioned in a book under review. Reviewers, however, rarely refer to themselves, and when they do it is usually in general terms. These results have intrinsic interest as an example of the use of thematic structure in early academic periodical writing in French, but also show that manual analysis remains a useful tool in approaching texts which are not amenable to computer analysis.
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Journal articles
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https://hal.univ-brest.fr/hal-02270777
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Submitted on : Monday, August 26, 2019 - 11:42:30 AM
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David Banks. Approaching the Journal des Sçavans, 1665–1695: a manual analysis of thematic structure. Journal of World Languages, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2013, 2:1, pp.1-17. ⟨hal-02270777⟩

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