The Centre for the History of European Discourses was incorporated in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities in August 2015.

The information in this website is therefore out of date but retained for archival and staff purposes.

We invite you to join us at this research event featuring new work by visiting scholars from the Center for Early Modern History at the University of Minnesota, the Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment at Oxford University, and the Eighteenth-Century Centre at the University of Warwick.
Thursday 6 August 2015
11 am – 3 pm
Seminar Room
Level 4, Forgan Smith Building
University of Queensland
Please register your interest in attending by July 30, as space is limited and a light lunch will be provided. 
To register, please email Jill Paxton (and advise of any dietary restrictions).

Preliminary Schedule

11 am – 12 noon Making Governmental Subjects under Louis XIV: Biopolitics at the Académie Royale des Sciences Around 1700
JB Shank (Director, Center for Early Modern History, University of Minnesota)
Michel Foucault’s conception of the "governmentalized state," with its attendant notions of biopolitics and the care of the self within regimes of surveillance and techno-scientific power, has exerted a seminal influence in recent scholarship about the Enlightenment and its legacies. Yet the history of the emergence of the governmentalized state in Old Regime France has yet to be written. Shank will sketch an outline of such a history with reference to the governmentalizing reforms enacted in the French Royal Academies, especially the Académie Royale des Sciences, in 1699.

12 noon – 12.45 pm Lunch Break
12.45 – 1.45pm Reading Diderot (Reading Montaigne) Reading Augustine
Kate Tunstall (Besterman Centre for the Enlightenment, Oxford)
This paper examines an anecdote, told first in Augustine’s 'City of God', and retold by both Montaigne and Diderot. It concerns a man, in some versions a priest, who would for reasons and on occasions that are presented differently in the various retellings, fall to the ground and lose consciousness, and nothing, not even violent intervention, would bring him round. (We would today say he was prone to catalepsy.) The anecdote is perhaps better thought of as a ‘case' as, in addition to its medical implications that are taken up in some eighteenth-century medical writing, the various versions take on theological, legal, and political dimensions. The question of the will, of agency, is central, and this paper explores the ways in which the three writers selected, intervening in very different historical and political contexts, make his or, rather, their case.

1.45 pm – 2 pm Coffee Break

2 pm – 3 pm The Birth of Reciprocity in the Enlightenment
Charles Walton (Director, Warwick Eighteenth-Century Centre)
This paper traces the emergence of the noun ‘réciprocité’ back to the Enlightenment. Its first dictionary appearance dates to 1762, but it was already in currency by the mid eighteenth century. I examine uses of the concept and the tensions to which it gave rise, particularly, between will and nature, and between even exchange and selfless generosity. The term was used especially in discussions about rights and duties as well as in tracts on political economy. These meanings and tensions have, I argue, continued up to the present day. They run through much political philosophy and cultural anthropology.


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