Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Republic of Letters: Between Renaissance and Enlightenment

An international conference at Stanford University
November 30 - December 1, 2007
Stanford Humanities Center
Sponsored by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages

The "Republic of Letters," as the autonomous community of scholars in
early modern Europe was known, constitutes the venerable ancestor for
a wide range of intellectual societies: the seventeenth-century
salons, early modern Academies, the Enlightenment "société des gens
de lettres," and the modern university all owe numerous
characteristics to this Renaissance creation. As a non-State network,
moreover, it arguably provided the foundations for the bourgeois
"public sphere," in which critical discourse and opinion could
challenge governmental authority.

Our knowledge about the Republic of Letters, however, remains
remarkably patchy. What was its reach, in terms of territory and
social groups? How long did it last? What were its relations with the
State? How did gender factor as a significant element? Were there
separate "republics," and if so, how did they differ? What were the
politics of this Republic? In an attempt to provide richly detailed
answers to these and other questions, we are organizing a two-day
conference on "The Republic of Letters: Between Renaissance and
Enlightenment," that will bring together an international group of
intellectual historians, historians of science and philosophy,
literary scholars, and bibliographers-a group, in other words, that
mirrors the very object it proposes to study.

Traditional challenges confronting the study of the Republic of
Letters are periodization and a narrow geographical focus. To
overcome this first difficulty, we have invited scholars whose
research concerns the 17th- and/or 18th-century to consult and debate
with specialists of the Renaissance, the period when the Republic of
Letters was first formed. We hope to uncover in this manner, possibly
for the first time, some of the later avatars of this Republic. In
response to the second challenge, we are assembling a diverse group
of scholars, whose combined expertise encompasses a vast
international breadth (including the Americas, Austria, England,
France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain)


Jean Boutier - Directeur d'études, EHESS
Liam Brockey - History; Princeton
Bianca Chen - History; European University Institute
Dan Edelstein - French; Stanford
Paula Findlen - History; Stanford
Anthony Grafton - History; Princeton
Margaret Jacob - History; UCLA
Victoria Kahn - English, Comparative Literature; UC Berkeley
Antoine Lilti - History; Ecole Normale Supérieure
Gary Marker - History; SUNY, Stonybrook
Peter Miller - History; Bard Graduate Center
Paola Molino - History; European University Institute
Elena Russo - French; Johns Hopkins
Caroline Sherman - History; Catholic University of America
Jacob Soll - History; Rutgers University, Camden


Dan Edelstein
Paula Findlen
Jacob Soll


George Bloom - Comparative Literature; Stanford



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