Enlightened Violence – Violent Enlightenment

Session at the Eleventh Quadrennial Congress of

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Call for Papers

The official discourse of Enlightenment is, no doubt, one that violently condemns violence: conflicts should be resolved by reason and discussion, social emotions like love, friendship, pity should tame all aggressive, pre-rational tendencies of human nature. But, as we know, suppression brings back the suppressed: Many benevolently enlightened texts show a strange interest in violence (examples include the novels of Richardson, Fielding, Voltaire, Wieland). Towards the end of the century - with an increased interest in the body, in emotions and in the emancipation of the creative and spontaneous individual – this suppressed interest in violence and its aesthetics becomes manifest (appearing, for instance, in the aesthetics of the sublime; the Gothic Novel; materialist epicureism; de Sade's portrait of deliberate criminality; violence of expression and the expression of violence in Storm and Stress; Blake). Moreover there is a new discourse on the – legitimate? necessary? – use of violence in the revolutionary overthrow of the ancien régime in North America and France.

We look for submissions on the Enlightenment discussion of violence in all disciplines (philosophy, medicine, psychology, anthropology, law, aesthetics) and on its portrayal in the arts and literature of the Enlightenment. Submissions with a truly comparative scope would be especially welcome.

All proposals should include a short abstract (not longer than 100 words) which will be published on the web site and a cv.

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