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IMEMS Events

6 July 2021 - 6 July 2021

4:00PM - 6:00PM


  • Free Event Registration Required

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The Enlightenment has of late been increasingly invoked by authors from postcolonial, postmodern, and subaltern studies, and by the literature concerning the possible contribution of the humanities to an understanding of the social and environmental challenges facing globalization today.

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Yet, at the same time that the Enlightenment is being re-vitalized by global history and environmental humanities, scholars have pointed out the historical discrepancies between a supposed unitary tradition of Enlightenment and the “quasi-mythical status” (Winterer, 2016) which it acquired after World War II in Europe and the US as a reaction to totalitarian regimes.

Pulled, on the one hand, by historiographical trends that tend to stress elements of continuity with classical, reformation, and humanistic past, and global and postmodern forms of engagement with the Enlightenment legacy, on the other, the Enlightenment therefore finds itself today challenged by conflicting ideological agendas and disciplinary perspectives. The Zoom webinar “Debating Enlightenment” - which follows up the organisation in 2020 of the IMEMS online workshop “Enlightenment in a time of crisis” - will provide leading scholars from Britain, North America and Europe an opportunity to present and discuss their innovative research on issues such as the status of Enlightenment as a myth, a self-conscious intellectual and social phenomenon, or a ubiquitous (and perhaps nebulous) historiographical category.

Topics discussed will include the circulation of Enlightenment books and ideas between Britain and continental Europe (Linda Gil; Ashley Walsh); the emergence of intellectual pluralism in Enlightenment Scotland (Alasdair Raffe); the development of ideas of time during the French Revolution (William Nelson); the conceptual and material significance of correspondence studies in Enlightenment scholarship (Gregory Brown); the usefulness or lack of usefulness of the term "Catholic Enlightenment" in the late-18th-century English-speaking world (Shaun Blanchard); and the national socialist scholarship of the 1930s and 1940s dealing with the Austrian/German Enlightenment (Thomas Wallnig).

After the presentations, a roundtable discussion between participants will follow, to which also attendees will have an opportunity to participate through the Q/A function.


Chair: Marco Barducci (IMEMS, Durham University)


Linda Gil (University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3)

"Voltaire's complete works in England at the eve of the French Revolution : in search of a bookseller throughout the 1780's"

Shaun Blanchard (FranU/National Institute for Newman Studies)

"Catholic Enlightenment: What is it Good For?"

Gregory Brown (University of Nevada, Las Vegas/Voltaire Foundation, Oxford University)

“The conceptual and material significance of correspondence studies in Enlightenment scholarship”

William Nelson (University of Toronto)

“Leaping Into the Future”

Alasdair Raffe (University of Edinburgh)

“Intellectual Pluralism and the Scottish Enlightenment” 

Thomas Wallnig (University of Wien)

Joseph II, the Führer. Central European Enlightenment scholarship of the 1930s and 1940s”

Ashley Walsh (Cardiff University)

“Fashioning a Protestant Civil Religion: England, Switzerland, and the 'Helvetic Trio'”









Free Event Registration Required

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