Seminar: Rethinking the Long Eighteenth Century: Social, Literary, and Political History in Pre- and Post-Revolutionary France

Date Range
Thu May 11th 2023, 2:30 - 6:00pm
Wallenberg 433A


Valentina Dal Cin (Ca’ Foscari University, CESTA - Stanford University)

Chloe Edmondson (French & Italian Department - Stanford University)



Home of the Enlightenment and a magnet for all of Europe, eighteenth-century France is a rich field for the study of ideas and society. The abrupt break caused by the French Revolution in 1789 and the subsequent Napoleonic era have sometimes been seen as implicit temporal boundaries to this field of study. This has been reinforced by the chosen areas of specialization of many scholars, which in many cases separate the study of the eighteenth century from the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. In contrast, this seminar aims to rethink our understanding of the long eighteenth century in France from a broader perspective, fostering dialogue between scholars of the late seventeenth century through to the post-revolutionary period. Among the topics addressed, special attention is given to cultural practices, networks, the circulation of ideas, gender issues, inequalities, and social dynamics. Through different approaches and perspectives, the seminar sheds new light on a period characterized by political, social and cultural changes, considering both elements of continuity and rupture.

This seminar is co-sponsored by The Europe Center. The event has been sponsored by the project NapApps. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 101018470.


2:30 - 3:45

First panel: Politics and Society in Confrontation

Chair: Andrei Pesic (Stanford University)

Christy Pichichero (George Mason University, Humanities Center Stanford): Race, Resistance, and Celebrity: the Case of the Chevalier de Saint-George

Doina Pasca Harsanyi (Central Michigan University): Clichés and consequences. The place of national stereotypes in Napoleonic Italy

Valentina Dal Cin (Ca’ Foscari University - Stanford University): Mobilizing Social Networks in Napoleonic France: Recommendations and Recruitment

Masano Yamashita (University of Colorado): “Playthings of Fortune”: Accidents, Chance and Inequality in Eighteenth- Century France

3:45 - 4:15


4:15 - 4:45


4:45 - 6:00

Second Panel: Transmission and Translation: The Circulation of Models and Ideas

Chair: Keith Baker (Stanford University)

Clorinda Donato (California State University): Babel’s Pudenda: The Sexual Epistemologies of Diderot's Indiscreet Jewels 

Jacob Soll (University of Southern California): The Encyclopédie and the 17th-Century Origins of Enlightenment Culture.

Chloe Edmondson (Stanford University): Letters à la Sévigné: A Seventeenth-Century Model for the Eighteenth Century

Gregory Brown (University of Nevada): The transatlantic correspondence network of Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais: Textual corpus, metadata and social historiography

6:00 - 6:30