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Laclos's Objects of Affection: Venerating the Family During the French Revolution, Eighteenth-Century Studies 51.3 (2018)

In 1793, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, was imprisoned for having suspicious political connections. Distraught, Laclos relied upon correspondence and material objects to maintain his sense of self and his connection to his family. His letters home reveal a series of emotional practices, most notably the adoration of material objects that reminded him of his relatives. Laclos's attention to these objects paralleled devotional practices, including the veneration of relics. He turned love for his family into a kind of religion, revealing new facets of sentimentalism and secularization during the eighteenth century, especially during the French Revolution.

Learned and Loving: Representing Women Astronomers in Enlightenment France, Journal of Women's History 29.1 (2017)

Using the example of Joseph Jérôme Lalande (1730–1807) and his collaborators Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723–1788) and Marie-Jeanne-Amélie LeFrançois (1760–1832), this article reconstructs the work done by women astronomers and examines how Lalande described them in his correspondence and publications. Lalande stressed their emotional sensitivity and deep connections to their family, but made clear that women’s emotions fueled rather than conflicted with their scientific research. In so doing, he implicitly argued against assumptions that women’s domestic ties made them ill-suited for serious research. Yet even as this rhetoric supported learned women, it also placed significant constraints upon them: they were not imagined as autonomous figures. Furthermore, Lalande’s writings show that the bar was set high for “femmes savantes” (learned women). They could pursue advanced scientific research, and be publicly credited for their work, but only if they maintained a grueling double schedule of scientific and domestic work.

Philosophes Mariés and Epouses Philosophiques: Men of Letters and Marriage in Eighteenth-Century France, French Historical Studies 35.3 (2012)

Under the sway of new sentimental ideals and norms of sociability, eighteenth-century men of letters forged a new normative ideal that celebrated intellectual companionate and collaborative marriage. Rather than focusing on homosocial friendship as sufficient proof of their sociability and virtue, as had thinkers from earlier eras, they emphasized their loving family lives as proof of those traits. Moreover, such marriages were not merely represented as affectionate but also as productive. Husbands began to depict their wives as useful and valued assistants, thereby suggesting that intellectual life could be enhanced by the experience of domestic affect. Thus, in Enlightenment France, family life and philosophy became more than just compatible: they became mutually beneficial.

With Anne Verjus, Claire Cage, Jennifer Heuer, and Andrea Mansker, Regards croisés sur le mariage à l’époque révolutionnaire et impériale, Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française 388.2 (2017)