HIST 202: European Civilization, 1648-1945

Lecture 05 - The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere. While the major philosophical projects of the Enlightenment are associated with the names of individual thinkers such as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire, the cultural transformation in France in the years leading up to the Revolution should also be understood in the context of the public sphere and popular press. Alongside such luminaries as those associated with Diderot's Encyclopedie were a host of lesser pamphleteers and libellists eager for fame and some degree of fortune. If the writings of this latter group were typically vulgar and bereft of literary merit, they nonetheless contributed to the "desacralization" of monarchy in the eyes of the growing literate public. Lawyers' briefs, scandal sheets and pornographic novels all played a role in robbing the monarchy of its claim to sacred authority at the same time as they helped advance the critique of despotism that would serve as a major impetus for the Revolution. (from

Lecture 05 - The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere

Time Lecture Chapters
[00:00:00] 1. Six Ways That the Enlightenment Mattered
[00:05:52] 2. The Spread of Enlightenment Thinking through the Public Sphere:
... Academies, Masonic Lodges, and Salons
[00:12:58] 3. The Enlightenment among the Grub Street Hacks
[00:23:05] 4. Desacralization of the French Monarchy
[00:27:43] 5. Legal Briefs on the Despotism of the Monarchy: The Law as a New Source of Sovereignty
[00:36:41] 6. Sensational Royal Affairs: The Erosion of Monarchical Prestige

Lecture 5 - The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere
Instructor: Professor John Merriman. Transcript [html]. Audio [mp3]. Download Video [mov].

Go to the Course Home or watch other lectures:

Lecture 01 - Introduction
Lecture 02 - Absolutism and the State
Lecture 03 - Dutch and British Exceptionalism
Lecture 04 - Peter the Great
Lecture 05 - The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere
Lecture 06 - Maximilien Robespierre and the French Revolution
Lecture 07 - Napoleon
Lecture 08 - Industrial Revolutions
Lecture 09 - Middle Classes
Lecture 10 - Popular Protest
Lecture 11 - Why no Revolution in 1848 in Britain
Lecture 12 - Nineteenth-Century Cities
Lecture 13 - Nationalism
Lecture 14 - Radicals
Lecture 15 - Imperialists and Boy Scouts
Lecture 16 - The Coming of the Great War
Lecture 17 - War in the Trenches
Lecture 18 - Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning (Guest Lecture by Jay Winters)
Lecture 19 - The Romanovs and the Russian Revolution
Lecture 20 - Successor States of Eastern Europe
Lecture 21 - Stalinism
Lecture 22 - Fascists
Lecture 23 - Collaboration and Resistance in World War II
Lecture 24 - The Collapse of Communism and Global Challenges