The Labor of the Mind. Intellect and Gender in Enlightenment Cultures

A. J. LaVopa (North Carolina State University)

Monday, 21 May 2018, 2 – 3.30 pm

School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, William Robertson Wing, rm. 2.36

Prof. LaVopa will give a presentation on his most recent book, The Labor of the Mind. Intellect and Gender in Enlightenment Cultures (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), and lead a discussion of chapter 6 (“The Labors of David Hume”).

The book is available online through the Edinburgh University Library website.

Please send an email to before 6 pm on Friday, 18 May, if you would like to attend.

Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars: 2018 Programme

All seminars will be held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh, from 4:30–6pm.

Wednesday 24 January
Rosanne Waine, University of Southampton: ‘Refashioning patriotic display for an independent interior: the entrepreneurship of British calico printers within the republican marketplace of America’

Wednesday 7 February
Elise A. Mitchell, New York University: ‘Enduring morbidity: the histories of ill enslaved women in Dr. Alexander Johnston’s archive, 1765–1776’

Alastair Learmont, University of Edinburgh: ‘Health, wealth and prestige in late eighteenth-century Jamaica’

Wednesday 21 February

Eva Lippold, University of Loughborough: ‘Sneaking into Seraglio: Crossing gender boundaries in Inchbald’s The Mogul Tale and Crawley’s A Day in Turkey’

Alexandra Anderson, University of Leeds: ‘The promotion of feminine ideals in eighteenth-century historical accounts’

Wednesday 7 March

Thomas Whitfield, Newcastle University: ‘“To live free from impost”: Jack “the Blaster,” Marsden Grotto, and the creation of a rent-free home in later eighteenth-century north-east England’

Alley Jordan, University of Edinburgh: ‘“Beautiful shells from the shore”: Thomas Jefferson’s sacred grotto of 1771’

Wednesday 21 March

Sarah Burdett, University of York: ‘“Decoyed by the artifice of a villain”: Irish politics in Matthew West’s Pizarro (1800)’

Sarah Hendriks, University of Edinburgh: ‘“Fair to behold”: A history of concert halls in eighteenth-century Dublin’

Wednesday 4 April
Kerstin Pahl, Humboldt University Berlin and King’s College London: ‘Crossing over: the transboundary aesthetics of Godfrey Kneller’s portrait of Michael Alphonsus Shen Fuzong (The Chinese Convert, 1687)’

Georgia Vullinghs, University of Edinburgh: ‘Loyal exchange: material and visual culture of Jacobite exile c.1716’

For more information please see our website:

Thomas Innes: Scotland’s Premier Enlightenment Historian?


Kelsey Jackson Williams (University of Stirling)

Room 2.36, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place

The historical writings of the Scottish Enlightenment, defined by the works of canonical figures such as Robertson and Hume, are familiar to many, but the name of Thomas Innes is rather less likely to meet with instant recognition. This paper introduces Innes and his work and argues for the importance of an early but all too often neglected moment of Enlightenment historical writing in Scotland at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Kelsey Jackson Williams is a lecturer in early modern literature at the University of Stirling and studies the intellectual, literary, and material cultures of early modern northern Europe, particularly Scotland. At the moment he is writing a book on the forgotten role of antiquarianism in the Scottish Early Enlightenment. His monograph – The Antiquary: John Aubrey’s Historical Scholarship – was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Professor Smith’s Interests


Jacob Sider Jost (Dickinson College)

Friday, 16 March, 4 – 5.30 pm


Adam Smith famously lays “interest” at the foundation of his two major published works: the “interest” that even the most selfish man takes in the fortune of others in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, and the “interest” that impels the butcher, brewer, and baker to vend their wares in the Wealth of Nations. Less commented on is the importance of interest to Smith’s aesthetics in “Of the Imitative Arts” and the Lectures on Belles-Lettres and the role of interest, understood as a relationship of patronage or obligation and visible in his surviving correspondence, in the conduct of Smith’s career as a professor and tutor. Following Smith’s own philological prescriptions in his review of Johnson’s Dictionary, this paper proposes an anatomy of Smithian interests and suggests that they share important common features.

Jacob Sider Jost is Assistant Professor at Dickinson College. His research and teaching interests include the long eighteenth century, Shakespeare, Austen, and Hume. His first book, Prose Immortality, 1711-1819, was published by Virginia University Press in 2015, and he has work published in RES, Modern Philology, ELH, SEL, Modern Intellectual History, and elsewhere. He is currently writing a book about interest.

The Optics of Optimism: Justifying Evil after Bayle

Mara van der Lugt (University of St Andrews)

Friday, 6 April, 4 – 5.30 pm

Room 2.36, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place

Pierre Bayle’s discussion of the problem of evil in his Dictionnaire Historique et Critique of 1696 triggered a wide variety of responses in the early eighteenth century. Among its many perceived threats was the question of Bayle’s philosophical pessimism: his confident assertion that the evils of life outweigh the goods, and that this was true in terms of both moral and physical evils.

This paper will discuss the continuation of this debate in authors such as Leibniz and King, who were united in their effort to turn the scales against Baylean pessimism and prove that the goods of life outweigh life’s evils. This effort led them into a tortured discussion of the most uncomfortable parts of any theodicy and the deepest domains of human suffering, culminating in the question whether it could be true for any person created by a good God that it would be better never to have been.

Mara van der Lugt is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of St Andrews, pursuing a three-year project on pessimism and the problem of evil in the early Enlightenment. Following the completion of her doctorate (DPhil) in History at the University of Oxford in 2014, on the seventeenth-century French philosopher Pierre Bayle, she held a two-year fellowship at the Lichtenberg Kolleg – Institute of Advanced Studies in Göttingen (Germany). Before this, she completed a Master in Philosophy and a Research Master in Early Modern Intellectual History at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2010, focussing especially on questions of interpretation and dissimulation in early modern philosophers such as John Toland. Her book Bayle, Jurieu, and the Dictionnaire Historique et Critique was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

The Enlightenment and the Orthodox World

Monday, 6 November, 6.30 pm

Playfair Library Hall, Old College

Paschalis Kitromilides is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Athens and Director of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies. He has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, at Harvard University, and at other universities in Europe and America. His book Enlightenment and Revolution. The Making of Modern Greece was published by Harvard University Press in 2013. His lecture will address the concept of an ‘Orthodox Enlightenment’ contributing to the European intellectual experience in the eighteenth century, with reference to prominent intellectual leaders from the Orthodox cultural traditions of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

There will be a reception in the Playfair Library Hall immediately after the lecture.

This event is supported by the A. G. Leventis Foundation and is jointly sponsored by the Scottish Hellenic Society and the Classics Subject Area in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh.

Hume Conference

Organiser: Felix Waldmann, Christ’s College, Cambridge

Thursday 22 June, 1.45 pm – 5.50 pm

Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square, Edinburgh

Provisional schedule:

1.45 pm           Opening Remarks

Session 1         Chair: Nicholas Phillipson (Edinburgh)

2.00 pm           Thomas Ahnert (Edinburgh): ‘Hume and the Moderate Presbyterians’

2.35 pm           James Harris (St Andrews): ‘Hume and John Wilkes’

3.10 pm           Discussion

3.40 pm           Tea Break

Session 2         Chair: Catherine Jones (Aberdeen)

4.10 pm           Robin Mills (UCL): ‘Hume, Beattie, Forbes’

4.45 pm           Felix Waldmann (Cambridge): ‘Hume and the Seymour Conway family’

5.20 pm           Discussion

5.50 pm           Reception

‘Consciousness’ and ‘Public’: Two Case Studies of Text- and Data-Mining Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) 

Mikko Tolonen (University of Helsinki)

Friday 12 May 2017, 4.30 – 6.00 pm

Room 2.36, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place

This paper shows how the uses of the term ‘consciousness’ developed throughout eighteenth-century Britain from its Lockean premises towards a broader polysemy. It will then turn to map different uses of the term ‘public’ with an aim to show how the late eighteenth century is a distinctive period in a Habermasian sense, compared to earlier times with respect to pamphleteering in particular. The motivation for the paper is thus to give two different examples to demonstrate that analyses of clusters of different words and how they change over time can have a significant impact on eighteenth-century intellectual history. This paper is based on multidisciplinary work carried out by COMHIS Collective research group at the University of Helsinki.

Mikko Tolonen is an intellectual historian. His main research interest is in the Scottish Enlightenment. His monograph, Mandeville and Hume. Anatomists of Civil Society was published in 2013 by the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford.

The Death of Romanticism and its Philological and Historical Consequences

Prof. Suzanne Marchand (Louisiana State University)

Thursday, 13 April 2017, 4.00 – 6.00 pm

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE: The event will now be held in the Baille Room at New College, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. Entry is through the Ramsey Lane Wing. The way to the seminar room will be clearly signposted.

This paper begins with a discussion of the similarities and differences exhibited by Enlightened and Romantic studies of the ancient world, noting their common passionate interest in the history of religion and mythology.  It then argues that a turning point toward more ‘modern’ forms of inquiry occurs not in the 1790s but in the 1820s, and is the result less of a new ‘historicism’ than of the embarrassment scholars now felt about previous discussions of mythology, prehistory, and universal history.  The signature controversy of the day, involving Friedrich Creuzer’s immensely popular Symbolik und Mythologie der alten Völker, besonders der Griechen (1810-12), demonstrates the ways in which Romantic (and Enlightened) forms of scholarship came under fire among Restoration liberals terrified of Catholic reaction and idealist speculation.  The paper concludes by discussing the roads out of the Symbolik, one positivistic (prevailing in history writing and philology proper, which split into classical, oriental, and Germanic branches) and one philosophical (prevailing among Hegelians, young and old).  It argues that this was probably a necessary division of disciplinary labor, but one that largely cut academic writing off from popular universal histories, and one that also had the unpleasant outcome of cutting ancient Greece off from the history of the Orient and wider Mediterranean world.

Suzanne Marchand is Boyd Professor of European Intellectual History at Louisiana State University. Her other publications include German Orientalism in the Age of Empire: Religion, Race and Scholarship (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany,1750-1970 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

This paper is sponsored jointly by the Leverhulme Trust and ECENS.

Fénelon’s Political Economy Between Antiquity and Modernity

Ryan Patrick Hanley (Marquette University)

Monday 23 January, 4.00 pm

Meadows Lecture Theatre, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School

Ryan Hanley is Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, Wisconsin. He is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge UP, 2009) and Love’s Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge UP, 2016).

This event is organised jointly by the Institute for Intellectual History at the University of St Andrews and the Eighteenth-Century and Enlightenment Studies Network at Edinburgh.