History, Arizona State University, United States
Fellowship : October 2018 to June 2019
Discipline(s) : History
Pays : United States
It was Ernst Cassirer who, in 1932, called the Enlightenment "a bright clear mirror" in which Europeans, in a moment of crisis, might glimpse their better selves. Today, when the Enlightenment has again become a touchstone in thinking about modernity, at a global level, it is more urgent than ever to look back at the uses - and abuses - of this idea. My aim is to complete a book, which will consider the history of thinking about the Enlightenment, as object both of scholarship and of philosophical-political polemics, over the past century. Its main argument will be delivered in the form of a periodization, moving from the great anti-Fascist defenses of the Enlightenment beginning in the inter-war period; to the novel attacks on it from within Western Marxism and French post-structuralism in the post-war period; to the relative calm of the burgeoning "Enlightenment industry" in the last years of the century; to the present conjuncture, when passionate identification with the Enlightenment, for multiple reasons, has again become the order of the day.
Johnson Kent Wright is Associate Professor in the School of Civic and Economic Thought at Arizona State University, USA, where he previously taught in the Departments of Interdisciplinary Humanities and History. A native of the state of Michigan, he earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago in 1990. His work has focused on three areas: French political thought in the era of the Enlightenment – Mably, Montesquieu, and Rousseau in particular; the political history of the "Atlantic revolutions," 1776-1826; and the historiography of the Enlightenment. He is a former editor of the journal French Historical Studies.
WRIGHT, Johnson Kent. A Classical Republican in Eighteenth-Century France: The Political Thought of Mably (Stanford University Press, 1997).
WRIGHT, Johnson Kent. “A Bright, Clear Mirror’: Cassirer’s The Philosophy of the Enlightenment”, in Keith Baker and Peter Hans Reill, eds., What’s Left of Enlightenment? A Postmodern Debate (Stanford University Press, 2001).
WRIGHT, Johnson Kent. “A Rhetoric of Aristocratic Reaction? Nobility” in De l’esprit des lois, in Jay Smith, ed., The French Nobility at the End of the Old Regime (Penn State Press, 2006).
WRIGHT, Johnson Kent. "Rousseau and Montesquieu," in Helena Rosenblatt and Paul Schweigert, eds., Thinking with Rousseau (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
WRIGHT, Johnson Kent. The Revolutionary Atlantic, 1776-1826 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019).