Roger Chartier
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In this conference I would like to firstly discuss about the concept of "origin" when historians use it to understand a rupture so decisive as the one happening in 1789 in France. This perspective pushes us to reconsider the operation, typical in all the literature devoted to the links between Enlightenment and Revolution, that points us to the gestures of rupture with the authorities in regards to the dissemination of "philosophical" ideas, so assuming a direct, automatic and transparent production of the actions through the thoughts. Against the classical definition that considers Enlightenment as a set of critical ideas, could it not be considered as a set of multiple practices guiding the worry for the common usefulness, whose objective is a new management of the spaces and populations, as well as mechanisms (intellectual, institutional, social, etc.) that impose a complete reorganization of the perception and organization of the social world? I will also pose three questions whose relevance seem to me important to understand the political and cultural mutations in the Century of Lights: the relationship between public opinion and popular opinions, the transformation of the reading practices, it is often understood as a "revolution of reading", and the role -or absence- of women in the construction of the new political space. Finally I will analyze the the appropriation of the Enlightenment by the French Revolution, which obliges us to review the notion of "precursors" and can suggest that, maybe, it was the Revolution who made the Enlightenment, this is, it was upon the occurrence of the event when a it was built a repertory of works and authors who supposedly had prepared it and announced it.
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