For the next installment of this dialogic series, the journal asked William Paulson (University of Michigan) and Caroline Weber (Barnard College, Columbia University) to refl ect on in what ways the nineteenth century (mis)reads the eighteenth. Th ey composed their initial essays without knowing who their interlocutor would be or what would be the content of the other person’s essay; the ensuing exchange, by e- mail, took place in the order presented below. Incipit: Th e Nineteenth Century (Mis)Reading the Eighteenth William Paulson and Caroline Weber In the nineteenth- century historical imagination, the eighteenth century was oft en strongly identifi ed with the philosophes and with the Revolution. As a result, when nineteenth- century thinkers strove to reconnect with a prerevolutionary past, or with ancestry and origins that they could view as authentic, they oft en excluded the eighteenth century in favor of earlier periods. Th is originally reactionary move could be put to more progressive uses insofar as it helped to account for a sense that key promises of the Revolution remained unful filled. It also became a contested move, with Jules Michelet proclaiming the eighteenth to have been the “grand siècle,” and Gérard de Nerval integrating the
Nineteenth-Century French Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 2, 2018
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