Enlightenment and Peasant Life
Representations, Intellectual Debates, Cultural Conflicts, Socio-economic Transitions
The eighteenth century is usually perceived as the age of crucial social transformation, which was likewise marked by fundamental changes in the spheres of economy, culture or science, intellectual debates, warfare and learning. Traditional patterns of living related to religion, privileges of monarchs and various aristocratic elites were questioned, new ideas were formulated and vehemently discussed in public.
Generally, scholars tend to adopt a rather urban-centric approach while discussing the great changes of the eighteenth century and regard these processes as something, which took place explicitly in the capital and in the big cities of the respective state. Evidently, the changes of these decades have rather clear urban roots; not to mention the role of the capital city in a centralized absolutist monarchy for the “Top Down” eighteenth-century social changes.
There is, however, an evident lacuna in the scholarly approach to date, which could be brought to light by simply asking a few
general questions. Do we have the right to neglect the society in rural areas, if we take into account that the overwhelming majority of the population between 1700 and 1800 still resided in villages? Did the rural economy not constitute the real backbone of the industrial development of many European and non-European countries of that age? Was the everyday life in the enlightened societies of the eighteenth century not influenced by the conservative traditions, which were dominant in rural areas? Certainly the list of questions can be far longer.
The aim of ISECS international Seminar for Early Career Eighteenth-Century Scholars is to focus on that special “rural aspect” of the Age of Enlightenment, which scholars are easily inclined to forget in their studies. The Seminar will try to focus interest on the following topics:
- Peasant Life and Village Society in Art and Literature of the Enlightenment.
- Wars and Peasants. Warfare and Villages between 1699 and 1802.
- Everyday Life in Rural Areas. Conservatism vs. Innovations in the Eighteenth Century.
- The Enlightenment and the Idea of Peasant Liberation.
- Socio-economic Transition in Progress: from Serfs to Free Peasants. The Case of Central Europe.
- Culture and Education in Rural Areas.
- Peasants and Revolutions in the Eighteenth Century.
- Social Problems and Social Revolts in European and Non-European Village Communities.
- Structural Problems of Rural Economy. Ideas and Reality in the Eighteenth Century.
- Eighteenth-Century Regional Specifics of Rural Societies in Africa, America, Asia and Europe.