Rebecca Spang (History), Director
As a historian of France, I study the eighteenth and the
nineteenth centuries, for the two are linked—more than they are
separated—by the French Revolution. Both my The Invention of the
Restaurant (Harvard, 2000) and my Stuff and Money in the Time
of the French Revolution (Harvard, 2015) cover the period 1750-1850.
Guillaume Ansart (French)
I have two chief research interests: aesthetic and sociological
approaches to the eighteenth-century novel, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political
theory, in both cases with a particular focus on France.
Fritz Breithaupt (German)
I work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
fiction and intellectual history. Among my recent projects are works on
the self, money, the invention of trauma, and theories of empathy.
Favorite authors include: Goethe, Moritz, Lessing, Rousseau, Kant,
Holderlin, Hegel, and Hoffmann.
Hall Bjørnstad (French)
As a scholar of seventeenth-century France, my first monograph, Créature sans créateur (PU Laval, 2011), was a study of Pascal's
anthropology. My present book project proposes a new approach to
absolutism, through a study of the royal exemplarity of Louis XIV. I
turn to the eighteenth-century for its reinterpretation of the past,
and to the interdisciplinary meetings of the Center for animated
discussions of the cultural and philosophical roots of enlightenments
Michel Chaouli (German)
In general, I don't find centuries to be very interesting. But as
centuries go, the eighteenth is quite outstanding. It not only managed to
give rise to a remarkable mix of people, ideas, conflicts, and products,
but it also presents these to us with a mixture of familiarity and
strangeness that I find to be productive for thought. At present, I am interested in aesthetic thought and the intersections of literature, philosophy, and science. I am working on a book on Kant's Critique of Judgment and on a study of the senses in the long eighteenth century.
Craiutu (Political Science)
I teaches courses in the history
of modern political thought and my research focuses on modern French political and social thought,
the French Revolution and its interpreters, liberalism and conservatism.
I have published on Guizot, Madame de Stael, and Tocqueville. My most recent book, A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830 (Princeton, 2012) includes chapters on eighteenth-century thinkers (Montesquieu, Necker, and the Monarchiens) as well as on figures who straddle the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Benjamin Constant and Mme de Stael).
Konstantin Dierks (History)
I am a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the British empire in the early-modern period spanning from the seventeenth into the nineteenth century. My first book, In My Power: Letter Writing and Communications in Early America, focused on the cultural, social, economic, and political history of letter writing and communications in the early-modern anglophone Atlantic World. My current research traces the shift in American geographical understandings of the wider world in the transition from colonial to post-colonial America, between 1660 and 1860.
Michael Dodson (History)
I am a cultural historian of British imperialism in South Asia, with a
special interest in the ways in which imperialism was reflected within
'traditional' Sanskrit religious scholarship in northern India. This is
the subject of my book Orientalism, Empire, and National Culture:
1770-1880 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). My main point of
contact with the eighteenth century is an interest in understanding the
ways in which British imperialism in Asia was facilitated through the
production of particular kinds of 'world history' narratives, including
those of orientalism. I am currently working on a project which traces
the evolution of British historical scholarship on the Asian world during
the eighteenth century, with an emphasis upon the demise of
classically-oriented approaches and the simultaneous rise of philology and
Jonathan Elmer (English)
My research attempts to demonstrate that literature is good to think with,
that the figurative imagination provides uniquely supple and condensed
treatments of a host of historical, psychological, political, and
conceptual problems. I am an antebellum Americanist by training—my first
book was on Edgar Allan Poe and mass culture in America—but my research
and teaching over the past decade has increasingly focused on colonial and
early national eras, and on writers of the anglophone Atlantic world from
Aphra Behn to Thomas Jefferson to Herman Melville. Some of this research animates On Lingering and Being Last: Fictions of Race and Sovereignty in the New World (Fordham, 2008). I am currently working on a project exploring the nature of play as a social, aesthetic, and interpretive phenomenon. I also play the trombone.
Michelle Facos (Art History)
My research spans the "long nineteenth century" with particular attention to the ways art production, display, and collecting were affected by the seismic changes during this era. One of my current projects, "The Copenhagen Art Academy: Innovation in the Era of Friedrich and Runge," examines the conditions contributing to singular developments in the work of artists studying at the Copenhagen Art Academy during the period 1760 to 1820.
Constance Furey (Religious Studies)
I am interested in the eighteenth century because of its reputation as a
secularizing age. My first book, Erasmus, Contarini, and the
Republic of Letters (Cambridge, 2006), explores the religious roots of the putatively
secular Republic of Letters, and my current project looks at how
devotional literature, by women in particular, influenced assumptions
about authorship and reading in English literature.
Roman Ivanovitch (Music)
My research concentrates on the music of the late eighteenth century and focuses on Mozart, in particular. Much of what we take for granted in "Classical" music (in the broadest sense of that term) took shape at this time and can today seem deceptively transparent. In addition to issues of form and analysis, I am preoccupied by questions concerning beauty and technique, conceptions of art-craftsmanship, and the limits of criticism. The search for broader contexts leads me to the wide-ranging conversations of the Center.
Oscar Kenshur (Comparative Literature)
Since tracing the ideological mutability of ideas in my book Dilemmas of Enlightenment (California, 1993), I have continued to focus on ways in
writers use an interplay of rhetorical and logical strategies to try to
reconcile their intellectual and ideological commitments. Most recently, I
have been applying these techniques of analysis to the history of ethics
Sarah Knott (History)
I am interested in what made the late eighteenth century revolutionary. My first book traced the uses of sensibility in the American Revolution—how revolutionaries sought to make a break from the British Empire, and to make new selves and a new society, by the canny deployment of sentiment. My new research tacks across the revolutionary orbits of North America, France, and Haiti. How, I ask, was revolution witnessed by contemporaries? And how where their first-person accounts circulated, translated, and reinterpreted across the revolutionary Atlantic world? A second set of
interests are captured in the title of an interdisciplinary volume
co-edited with Barbara Taylor: Women, Gender and Enlightenment (2007).
Ed Lazzerini (Central Eurasian Studies)
As a historian, I am especially interested in Islam as practiced and thought by Turkic peoples in the Russian Empire. For these populations, the period c. 1750-1905 was a time of double disruption: change brought both by internal reassessments (produced within well-established Muslim traditions) and by contacts with the European Enlightenment. I am currently writing a biography (the first!) of the Tatar intellectual Ismail Bey Gasprinskii (The Man Who Would be Modern) and am revising the manuscript of my book Russia's First Muslims and the Conceptualization of Modernity. I am also involved in various comparative studies of the Enlightenment's impact on non-European cultures.
Jesse Molesworth (English)
My work explores the intersection between the European Enlightenment and the literary form most often claimed as its logical outgrowth, the novel. In my Chance and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Realism, Probability, Magic (Cambridge, 2010), I argue for the novel as an agent of re-enchantment, one that sought not so much to buttress ascendant scientific principles but, rather more radically, to heal the rift between animistic and materialist worldviews. I am currently at work on another book which investigates the historical construction of time within eighteenth-century literature and culture.
Richard Nash (English)
I am interested in British literature and culture in the long
eighteenth century, with a special interest in literature and science,
concentrating on the Restoration and early eigtheenth century. My last
(Yahoo) book was on the figure of the Wild Man in eighteenth-century
England; my current (Houyhnhnm) project focuses on the origins of the
thoroughbred racehorse and what it means to invent an animal. Both
projects allow me to explore nature/culture hybridity and the origins
My main interest is thinking in a new way the relations between philosophy
and the arts, and more precisely between the philosophical
understanding of what meaning or sense is, that is, what can be called the
philosophical logic of sense, and the way that literature and the other
arts have understood meaning, or the artistic understanding of a logic of
sense. I have published a book on Melville's Moby-Dick and am about to
publish a book on the films of Brian De Palma where I have started to
interrogate these questions. I am currently starting a project on Diderot
who seems to me to constitute a major turning point in the history of the
thinking of philosophy's relation to the arts.
William Rasch (German)
My research deals explicitly with twentieth-century German political, legal,
and social-theoretical thinkers, which means that my research deals with
the eighteenth-century philosophical tradition as it has been received and
developed during the past hundred or so turbulent years. My teaching more
often explicitly addresses the German Enlightenment and the impact of the
French Revolution and Napoleonic wars on German literary and political
thought. I am as interested in Clausewitz as Kant, in Kleist's political
writings as in his stories, and far more interested in Schmitt on partisan
warfare than Habermas on perpetual peace.
Robert Schneider (History)
Although my current work focuses on seventeenth-century France, I have
written extensively on the eighteenth century and also teach courses that
at least traverse the period. More importantly, perhaps, it is clear to
me that the field of eighteenth-century studies has generated some of the
most interesting, innovative and provocative historical work out there,
work that has served as a model for my own research into an earlier
Ron Sela (Central Eurasian Studies)
My work examines political and cultural self-representation in Central
Asian sources, focusing on the eighteenth century - an era of remarkable
transformations in the perceptions of cultural and political boundaries,
the adaptations of old and new sources of inspiration and authority, and
new understandings concerning the individual's role in society. I have
been exploring some of these changes in my Ritual and Authority in
Asia (2003). I am currently working on a book about Central Asia's
emerging eighteenth-century hero by examining a contemporary, hitherto unstudied
corpus of Tamerlane's legendary biographies.
Johannes Türk (German)
I work on continental philosophy, the history of knowledge,
trauma theory, aesthetic theory and the German and the European novel. My Die Immunität der Literatur (S. Fischer, 2011)is an archeology of immunity, from
antiquity to twentieth-century biomedical sciences. The book investigates the
eighteenth-century debate on inoculation and the use of the first medical
prophylaxis as a paradigm for artistic production. What is at stake seems
to be our way to relate to the future.
Nick Williams (English)
I am interested in British literature of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century, in the context of ideological formations and, more recently, phenomological accounts of experience. My book, Ideology and Utopia in the Poetry of William Blake (Cambridge, 1998), placed the esoteric poet in the company of political thinkers from his own time and from ours. Currently, I'm at work on a project about concepts of animation—both as the principle of life as well as what stirs things to motion—and the way they inform the emergence of a strong idea of literature in the period from 1770-1830.