French and Italian Department
United States of America
I work for the most part on eighteenth-century France, with research interests at the crossroads of literature, history, political theory, and digital humanities. Most recently, I've completed a book manuscript on the history of natural and human rights from the wars of religion to the age of revolution (On the Spirit of Rights). This book is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press in 2018. An early version of this research appeared in the Journal of Modern History; a more theoretical piece is Humanity; and a synopsis of the first part of this book's argument can be found in an article for Critical Analysis of Law. My first book, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2009), examined how "liberal" natural right theories, classical republicanism, and the myth of the golden age became fused in eighteenth-century political culture, only to emerge as a violent ideology during the Terror. This book won the 2009 Oscar Kenshur Book Prize. My second book, entitled The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (University of Chicago Press, 2010), explored how the idea and narrative of "Enlightenment" emerged in French academic circles around the 1720's. I’ve edited three volumes of essays, one for Yale French Studies, on Myth and Modernity, another for SVEC (Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, now the Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment) on The Super-Enlightenment; and a third, with Keith Baker, on Scripting Revolution (Stanford University Press). Three more are in production (see CV for details). At Stanford, I teach courses on the literature, philosophy, culture, and politics of the Enlightenment; nineteenth-century novels; the French Revolution; early-modern political thought; and French intellectual culture (“Coffee & Cigarettes”). I teach two Thinking Matters courses, one on "Education as Self-Fashioning," the other on "Networks: Ecological, Revolutionary, and Digital." I’ve received the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching (in 2006), the university's highest teaching honor, and the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award (in 2011). I regularly teach in Education as Self-Fashioning, a freshman program that I co-founded with Carolyn Hoxby; as well as in the Stanford Summer Humanities Institute, which I direct; I also co-direct (with Debra Satz) and teach in Stanford's Humanities Core program.