About this Book
These essays on the shifting content and value attached to "enthusiasm" treat a particular historical question and at the same time pose a general challenge to our methodological expectations. The contributors (Peter Fenves, Jan Goldstein, Lawrence E. Klein, Jon Mee, J. G. A. Pocock, Mary D. Sheriff, and Anthony J. La Vopa) study the discourses of religion, psychology, aesthetics, politics, and philosophy in which "enthusiasm" figured as a key term—often a pejorative by which various forms of orthodoxy sought to establish their authority, sometimes a desideratum attached to intellectual, spiritual, or artistic inspiration. By tracing these often parallel discourses in France, Germany, and England, the essays establish the value of a transnational framework for the issues of secularization and modernity, one that draws on the perspectives of intellectual as well as social and political history. About the Author
Lawrence E. Klein, who teaches history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is the author of Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early-Eighteenth-Century England.
He has also edited the third earl of Shaftesbury's Characteristics
for Cambridge University Press.
Anthony J. La Vopa, who teaches history at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, is currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center. He is the author of a number of articles on eighteenth-century German social and intellectual history, and of Grace, Talent, and Merit: Poor Students, Clerical Careers, and Professional Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Germany.
He is working on a biography of Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Notes:
(also published as Huntington Library Quarterly
Reviews of Enthusiasm and Enlightenment in Europe:
"The essays collected in this volume explore the important, often surprising role that the now innocuous term 'enthusiasm' played in a number of fields, including theology, philosophy, social theory, physiology, and aesthetics, considered in three distinct regions of early modern Europe. The volume's underlying thesis is that enthusiasm had a Janus-like quality, evoking both positive ideas of religious or artistic inspiration and darker associations with disorder, delusion, and excess. The latter pejorative meanings had originated in the theological controversies of the Protestant Reformation but persisted, in more secular forms, into the Romantic era. At the heart of all the essays is the complicated interrelation of enthusiasm and Enlightenment: that is, the way that enthusiasm served both as a foil to eighteenth-century notions of enlightened rationality, sociability, and modernity and as a means of preserving values that those notions sometimes threatened, like the mysteries of creativity and spiritual illumination, the privacy of consciousness, and the desire to transcend the limits of the self. . . . The book is an impressive collection that greatly illuminates its central historical subject while also challenging the methodological assumptions commonly brought to Enlightenment studies." —American Historical Review
"The authors in this collection should be commended for their work at making complex something that many oversimplify. Klein and La Vopa succeed in problematizing our understanding of the Enlightenment's use of the term 'enthusiasm.'"—Church History