Abstract

This essay investigates the practice of virtue in late eighteenth-century France through an exploration of annual virtue prizes (prix de vertu) organized by the French Academy, the Academy of Bordeaux, and the Academy of Montauban. The academic archives consulted for this project offer a new means of interpreting the meaning of vertu at the end of the ancient régime since, unlike with more theoretical texts that discuss virtue in abstract terms, prize contests allowed social elites to designate particular acts as “virtuous.” The main argument is that the concept of virtue mobilized in the prix de vertu is an outgrowth of a long-standing moralistic discourse that valorized the dutiful conduct of the peasantry.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 443-458
Launched on MUSE
2008-07-13
Open Access
No
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