Rethinking Enlightenment, ca. 1650–ca. 1800

Friday, December 7, 2012–Saturday, December 8, 2012
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Mark Knights, University of Warwick; Jonathan Mee, University of Warwick; and Helen Deutsch, University of California, Los Angeles


Approaching the Enlightenment “from below” opens up interesting possibilities that build on the rethinking of the historical phenomena in ways that Peter Reill, Margaret Jacob, Saree Makdisi, and others at UCLA have already begun to explore. Rather than exploring Enlightenment themes through canonical texts or a relay race of “great thinkers,” this conference seeks to explore the Enlightenment through everyday practice and social interaction, through the press, clubs and societies, scientific lectures, and other multiple forms of social mediation. This approach relocates the Enlightenment in the culture of the period, opening up the question of whether groups of society that were themselves condemned by some as ignorant, passionate, superstitious, and even irrational, affiliated themselves with it.

Session 1: Civilizing Enlightenment
Chair: Anne Mellor, University of California, Los Angeles

Saree Makdisi, University of California, Los Angeles
“Occidentalism, Race, and Imperial Culture”

Stephen Shapiro, University of Warwick
“Enlightenment, Evangelicalism, Capitalism: World-Systematics and Cultural History from Below”

David O’Shaughnessy, University of Warwick
“Ex-Humeing an Irish Enlightenment: Dennis O’Bryen’s A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed (1783)”

Session 2: Incomplete Enlightenment
Chair: Kevin Gilmartin, California Institute of Technology

Sarah Tindal Kareem, University of California, Los Angeles
“Ungrounded Enlightenment”

Christopher Looby, University of California, Los Angeles
“Stephen Calvert’s Unfinished Business

Session 3: Political Enlightenment
Chair: Juan Sanchez, University of California, Los Angeles

Georgina Green, University of Warwick
“’The safety of the people is the sovereign law’ (Joseph Gerrald, 1793): The Gothic Institution of the Law and the Enlightenment Realm of Natural Rights in Radical Discourse of the 1790s”

Beat Kümin, University of Warwick
“Enlightenment Politics Viewed from Below: Communal Traditions and Responses in the Swiss Confederation”

Session 4: Intellectual Enlightenment
Chair: Craig Yirush, University of California, Los Angeles

Jon Mee, University of Warwick
“’A dish of Chat about politicks Foreign or domestick I relish very well’: Thomas Hardy and the LCS from Below”

Michael Meranze, University of California, Los Angeles
“Cobbett, Rush, and Libelous Enlightenment during the 1790s”

Helen Deutsch, University of California, Los Angeles
“Enlightened Enthusiasm: Jonathan Swift, Edward Said, and the Profession of Literature”