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Please join French-Speaking Worlds: Then and Now for a talk by David Bell (Professor of History, Princeton University).

How French Was the Enlightenment?

The Enlightenment was once seen as a quintessentially French movement, but several decades of historical work have questioned this characterization. Cases have been made for competing national Enlightenments, for Enlightenments owing more to the Netherlands or Britain than to France, for colonial Enlightenments, and even for a “Global Enlightenment.” In this lecture, I won’t be trying to reestablish French primacy in the Enlightenment, but rather to demonstrate one key feature that the Enlightenment owed to French origins, especially in the milieu of the salons: a style of writing that was deliberately playful and ambiguous, even paradoxical; that prompted readers to make up their own minds as a form of self-cultivation.

Hosted by the French-Speaking Worlds: Then and Now Research Group, sponsored by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Research Unit and co-sponsored by the France-Stanford Center and Stanford Global Studies.

This event is part of Stanford Global Studies’ Global Research Workshop Program.