29 - 30 April 2015
The meaning of the Enlightenment has proved a controversial matter throughout the course of
twentieth-century scholarship. For a succession of philosophers and historians, its intellectual
and political significance have been vigorously disputed. Max Weber, Ernst Cassirer, Carl
Becker, Paul Hazard, Isaiah Berlin, Peter Gay, Reinhart Koselleck and Franco Venturi testify
to the diversity of interpretations. Over the past two generations, disagreements have
continued to persist. Roger Chartier, Margaret Jacob, J. G. A. Pocock, Daniel Roche, Rudolf
Vierhaus, Peter Reill, David Sorkin, Darren McMahon, Roy Porter, Jonathan Israel, Dorinda
Outram, Dan Edelstein, John Robertson and Robert Darnton have variously deepened our
understanding of the period. But the resulting enrichment of historical knowledge has not
resulted in academic consensus.
This workshop is designed to address three related questions. First, it will take stock of recent
contributions to the study of the Enlightenment in order to refine our grasp of the terms which
govern the current debate. Second, it will test the main divergent lines of interpretation
against the evidence provided by political writing from the 1760s to the 1840s. And finally, it
will try to break new ground by addressing the question of the legacies of the Enlightenment.