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Anastasia Lazakis,

Please note: Anastasia has left the "History" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

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MADuke University2003
BAUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2000

Research Interests: French History

Current projects: "Le Coeur d'un bon Citoyen": The Sentimentalization of Citizenship in 18th-century France

My dissertation explores the political meanings of Enlightenment-era representations of ancient citizens. Literary scholars have long recognized that famous Romans and Greeks were re-imagined in the 18th century, according to sentimentalist conventions that emphasized their emotions as fathers, spouses, lovers, and friends, and downplayed earlier preoccupation with more martial, masculinist virtues. Yet there has been little effort to harness this insight to the work of intellectual and political historians, increasingly interested in the disputes over absolutist monarchy in pre-revolutionary France. Moving beyond the tiny corpus of systematic, canonical works of political theory typically dwelled on by “Cambridge School” historians, I study tragedies about ancient republicans, criticism of them, poems, novels, and popularized histories about ancients published in 18th-century periodicals, as well as moral and educational tracts. Focusing on four writers, Marmontel, Grimm, La Harpe, and Fréron, I recover the selective ways their constructions of ancients’ moral sentiments and emotional bonds were used to intervene in ongoing public debate over the merits and demerits of absolutist culture, sociability, and selfhood. My study of specific agents, and of literary genres often appealing to emotion rather than to reason, allow me to nuance the generalized conclusions historians have reached about “classical republicanism” in the pre-revolutionary era.

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