The 18th-Century Common (18thcenturycommon.com), a new public humanities website that my colleagues and I have just launched. It's a public space for sharing the research of scholars who study eighteenth-century cultures with nonacademic readers. The site will present short digests of the research of 18th-century scholars in many disciplines in accessible, non-specialized language, along with links to original texts, objects, images, and resources for further reading. Scholars will also write blog posts making connections between 18th-century studies and contemporary events. The site is not aimed at students, but at the sorts of readers who make bestsellers of trade books such as The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Knopf, 2009) or new biographies of the Founding Fathers -- adult readers who are interested in the ideas, history, art, literature, music, and science of an earlier era.
We want to tell such readers about our research and the scholarship that we produce. We think the work we do is really interesting and we want to share that with readers beyond the academy and outside the confines of today's challenging publishing climate. Furthermore, we hope to build a responsive community among scholars and nonacademic readers, so that eventually the content we post will be generated by interactions on the site as readers ask questions and suggest ideas they'd like to explore.
I hope you'll browse The 18th-Century Common, comment, sign up for updates, follow us on Twitter (@18common), tell your friends, and come back to read more as we add content. We're excited to take the eighteenth century beyond the academy to the internet!