Scientific Education in a Time of War (1793-1814)

This is an Archive of a Past Event

A talk by Dena Goodman, Lila Miller Collegiate Professor of History and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, at the Seminar on Enlightenment and Revolution

Description: In this paper I suggest that in the two decades when French armies were marching across Europe and sailing across the Mediterranean, an Enlightenment passion for science could be harnessed to France’s own ambitions, ambitions that were fueled in part by the aspirations of young men aiming to make careers in science and technology. Invoking their greater usefulness to the patrie as scientists and engineers than as soldiers, these young men were propelled to France’s expanding borders by a scientifically-based idea of social and economic progress that complemented and supported military conquest beyond the Pyrenees, the Mediterranean, and the Rhine. The young men I examine seized opportunities to travel that would advance their careers, enable them to establish themselves in a changing world, and become instrumental in building a new state, society, and economy. And they did so not in defiance of their fathers, but to further the Enlightenment aims of that earlier generation.

Dena Goodman is Lila Miller Collegiate Professor of History and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan and co-director of The Encyclopedia of Diderot and D'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Her research centers on the cultural history of eighteenth-century France. She is the author most notably of The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (1994) and Becoming a Woman in the Age of Letters (2009). She is currently engaged in a project on family and friendship across the French Revolution, at the center of which are three scientists, their families, and the Société Philomatique, founded in 1788. She is currently the Dibner Distinguished Fellow in Science and Technology at the Huntington Library.