In today’s society there is a great concern in terms of understanding the phenomenon through which the majority of a society is influenced by the ideas transmitted by the elite. In this respect it is important to understand the mechanism by which the elites tried to educate the majority, using in their attempt of the influence of some personalities as well as the media of the period. Our project proposes the understanding of this mechanism through the cultural education point of view. Also, understanding the phenomenon of changing perceptions through the printed word is beneficial for today’s European society, especially in the context of intensely debates about different phenomenon of propaganda and manipulation through modern means of communication. The research of cultural education is also beneficial for understanding the cultural similarity and diversity within the European continent, but also in the way ideas have been propagated in this field.
By implementing the present project, I propose to analyze, interdisciplinary, the cultural education process supported by the Romanian periodicals in Transylvania from the 1867 1918 period. The research will be organized on three levels: the framework in which periodicals have appeared, worked and disseminated, their impact on the population they are addressing and their functioning as a communication channel from the elite to the majority they wanted to represent. The approach will focus on examining articles, on encouraging the cultural education process, which touches topics related to promoting the knowledge of economics, hygiene, fight against superstitions, alcoholism, emigration as well as other socio-economic problems during the analyzed period. We underline the fact that by the term “culture” we mean a large set of techniques, habits, descriptions and patterns in the daily life that the analyzed media has tried to popularize within the society. The approach will also follow the way in which the methods of cultural education were adopted by the Romanian press from Transylvania under the influence of similar actions of the other nationalities within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Placing the research in the period between 1867-1918 is representative because it is the period in which the press reaches its climax. In the chronological period considered, the press focused more on cultural issues, avoiding debating the political issues due to the prohibitive legislation after the Revolution of 1848. That is why, during this period, the Romanian press from Transylvania intensified its cultural propaganda, taking over some models from their Saxon and Hungarian neighbors. Regarding the exercise of the cultural role of the press, we find an advantage of the periodicals when compared to other systems that have an impact on education, such as the school periodical. Newspapers and magazines could be read in a group, especially since many villagers were not literate, and thus the ideas conveyed in this manner had a wider area of action.
The written word played a fundamental role as a propaganda vehicle in the political context of that time, not only in the geographical area under analysis but throughout the Central and South-East European area as well. As a result, a transnational perspective proposed by the project is able to identify not only the common themes of cultural education in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but also how they influenced the similar approach in Transylvania or the practices in Transylvania influenced those in other parts of the Empire.
The first objective will be to evaluate the Romanian and foreign historiography related to the role of the press in the cultural education, with a special emphasis on the literature present in Central and South-Eastern Europe, to identify to what extent the topics addressed have influenced the circulation of ideas.
The second objective will be represented by the systematic research (number by number) of the periodicals, focusing on the subject matter of the articles and on the accessibility of the transmitted message. Also, we are considering to surprise the transformations in the thematic approaches depending on the chronological period or as a result of major events for the analyzed period (political and economic crises, epidemics, population movements, etc.).
In order to reach the third objective, we will study the transnational circulation of ideas within the articles specially dedicated to the cultural education and how they have influenced the editorial specificity. In order to estimate the consequences, I want to link the diffusion of the press in some regions of Transylvania with the implementation of economic methods described in the press (for example, cooperation, new agricultural techniques, use of agricultural machines, etc.). Regarding the cultural propaganda, I will follow to what extent the ideas transmitted have materialized through the establishment of libraries, private member clubs, public reading circles, etc.
The fourth objective will be represented by the analysis of the memoirs of editors or other contemporaries and of the archival documents of the periodicals. Their analysis can tell us about certain aspects related to the fact that the press has become a “speaking tube” for the ideas of cultural emancipation and political implication of the Romanian elite from Transylvania, and to what extent the messages transmitted by it to the vast majority of Romanians were understood and adopted by the latter. To accomplish this, I will look at the analysis of the press penetration routes in different areas of Transylvania, in parallel with the tracking of the circulation dynamics. Another way of disseminating periodic information was through libraries and various cultural institutions, but also through the literacy courses organized by Astra at the beginning of the 20th century, where much of the time press was used as teaching material, being much easier to read due to the accessible language. The owners, directors, publishers and financiers of the newspapers (ex: George Barițiu, Corneliu Diaconovici, Partenie Cosma, Ion Moța etc.) will also be highlighted, to reveal who they were and what they wanted to achieve through their actions, but also the models they followed, given their influence from the point of view of the intellectual environment in which they were formed. This aspect can highlight whether the approach was a conscious one, well organized, or represented by the necessity of the time without being well thought out and put into practice.