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Lisa Jane Graham
Haverford College (Haverford, PA 19041-1392)
Changing Social Norms in France during the Enlightenment

This book offers a fresh interpretation of the French Enlightenment as a collective response to the problem created by the unleashing of human desire from the traditional constraints of scarcity and sin. How do we reconcile this anxiety about desire with the Enlightenment promotion of the individual and the pursuit of pleasure? I answer this question by exploring legal debates about crimes of debauchery; aesthetic debates about the dangers of reading novels; medical debates about sexual health and marriage; and political debates about the costs of pleasure in a monarchy. By recovering these eighteenth-century debates, my book brings historical perspective to contested areas of contemporary democratic culture including the legal definition of marriage, the boundaries of private life, the role of the state in policing morality, and the cost of economic theories that depend on increasing consumption to secure growth.

Project fields:
Cultural History; European History

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017