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1 Why the eighteenth centuries, and not—if we insist on the pluralization of the concept—Enlightenments? After all, scholars in the last twenty years have realized that the Enlightenment (in the singular, as it had been known for nearly two centuries) is a multifaceted, richly textured, and often contradictory phenomenon, not easily molded into a single concept or located in a single geographical space. And it is precisely those eighteenth-century spaces, both physical and conceptual, that concern us here. This volume was born, we might say, in the heart of American Enlightenment : at Thomas Jefferson’s university. To enter Monticello, Jefferson’s magnificent —yet humble—residence in central Virginia, is to penetrate a space at once imposing and intimate, crammed with well-chosen objects that recount , and perhaps reflect, the owner’s catholic interests. Objects large and small hang side by side in exuberant defiance of any predetermined coherence . Their unity surges from their individual differences. The eye discerns a color, a shape, a texture, and a spatiality that fuse together into an original and distinctive view of American and European history and culture. Enlightenment history and culture, of course. It is this image that governs the collection. The March 2013 symposium at the University of Virginia that inspired our volume—“The Eighteenth Centuries: An Interdisciplinary Symposium”—marked the ten-year celebration of the still proudly ongoing Eighteenth-Century Study Group at the University of Virginia. Faculty from the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, Architecture, Art History , Chinese, Economics, English, French, German, History, Italian, Jefferson Studies, Music, Philosophy, Politics, Religious Studies, and Spanish, along with representatives from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the University of Virginia Press, meet once in the fall and once in the spring, over wine and cheese, to share current work. We have had presentations on (and discussed at length) common sense, Harlequin theater, Spanish American hierarchy, edges of empire, Orientalism on the Italian stage, becoming a man in eighteenth-century France, exorcism and Enlightenment, the prose of things, British art and national revival, voice machines and the castrati, rococo eroticism in Spanish poetry, Kant and organizing Enlightenment, enigmas and obscurity in French literature, Introduction Introduction 2 Fichte’s inner life, metaphors of mind, Locke’s moral man, Haydn’s invention of Scotland, poetry on the page, the men who lost America, literature incorporated , material forms of judicial authority, Virginia and the American slave trade in art, colonial science, and the biblical foundations of radical thought. Different sizes, different textures, different tones, different takes. Our common and divergent interdisciplinary and intercontinental interests have ignited a localized globalization of sorts that now expands out into the texts and maps—print and digital—of this collection. Contemplating the Western world in the post-1680 period, one realizes that the sugar produced in Jamaica (Nelson) found its way into the coffee served at the inn owned by Goldoni’s locandiera in Venice (Ward), whose struggle for independence as a businesswoman also reverberated in Mozart’s Viennese operas during the American War of Independence (Polzonetti). That same sugar sweetened the rum imbibed by John Greenwood’s inebriated sailors in his painting Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam (Crawford) and was served in drinks by Jefferson’s mixed-race slaves to guests at Monticello (Hill). Patrons reading the local press in Germany (Pasanek and Wellmon) collected and connected ideas in new, sometimes alarming ways. Artists, whether grappling with marriage, sex, and morality in the novels they were producing (Spacks), with subversive eroticism and utopian thought in their paintings (Sheriff), or with suffering and sympathy in their plays (Reed) struggled to understand how new knowledge and the new sciences informed daily life and marked the path into the future. Those sciences found their way into numerous works in the form of linguistic play in Spanish rococo (Eriksen) and book publishing, book collecting, and bibliographical taxonomies (Pickard). Jefferson himself drew on new scientific knowledge to buy, trade, and breed his horses (Douglass); the new breeding practices informed the scientific theories of race in the Spanish and North Americas (Hill). Many of these ideas circulated in books published in London or Paris (“I cannot live without books,” wrote Jefferson), although the eighteenth century also privileged other modes of intellectual exchange, as will become clear to the readers of this collection. So, why the eighteenth centuries? During the chronological eighteenth century learning and knowledge were intimately connected across disciplinary and geographical boundaries, and it was precisely during this period that...


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