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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Rousseau's Paradoxical Legacy

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Ourida Mostefai, Boston College
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

This talk will provide a reassessment of Rousseau’s career, and of his remarkable rise from obscurity to fame. Focusing in particular on the paradoxical reception of his works, which brought him both celebrity and marginality, and made him the most famous writer-fugitive of his time, we will see how Rousseau inaugurates a new form of fame in the Republic of Letters, based on a new relationship between the writer and a growing public that is increasingly interested in the life and conduct of the author. Through the intensively polemical reception of his works, Rousseau attempts to shape and control his public image, and in so doing becomes a model for an entire generation of aspiring writers and artists in Europe.

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Ourida Mostefai is Associate Professor of French in the Romance Languages & Literatures Department of Boston College. She received a Ph.D. and M.A. from New York University, and a Licence de Lettres from the Université de Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle. Her fields of research include 18th century French literature, Rousseau, pamphlets and polemical literature, and strategies of reading and censorship. She is the author of Le Citoyen de Genève et la République des Lettres (2003) as well as numerous articles. Professor Mostefai is also the co-editor of Rousseau and l’Infâme: Religion, Toleration, and Fanaticism in the Age of Enlightenment (2009) and Approaches to Teaching Rousseau’s “Confessions” and “Rêveries” (2003). She is a past President of the Rousseau Association and has served on the editorial boards of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. She is a member of the editorial team preparing a new critical edition of the Complete Works of Rousseau for Classiques Garnier Publishers. In 2009 she was honored by the French National Ministry of Education with the award of Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques.