Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226384115 Published October 2016
E-book $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226384252 Published October 2016 Also Available From
E-book Retailers: Amazon Kindle Apple iBooks B&N Nook Google Play Kobo Library Vendors: EBSCO

Sentimental Savants

Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France

Meghan K. Roberts

Sentimental Savants

Meghan K. Roberts

240 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226384115 Published October 2016
E-book $45.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226384252 Published October 2016
Though the public may retain a hoary image of the lone scientific or philosophical genius generating insights in isolation, scholars discarded it long ago. In reality, the families of scientists and philosophers in the Enlightenment played a substantial role, not only making space for inquiry within the home but also assisting in observing, translating, calculating, and illustrating.

Sentimental Savants is the first book to explore the place of the family among the savants of the French Enlightenment, a group that openly embraced their families and domestic lives, even going so far as to test out their ideas—from education to inoculation—on their own children. Meghan K. Roberts delves into the lives and work of such major figures as Denis Diderot, Émilie Du Châtelet, the Marquis de Condorcet, Antoine Lavoisier, and Jérôme Lalande to paint a striking portrait of how sentiment and reason interacted in the eighteenth century to produce not only new kinds of knowledge but new kinds of families as well.

1.         Men of Letters, Men of Feeling
2.         Working Together
3.         Love, Proof, and Smallpox Inoculation
4.         Enlightening Children
5.         Organic Enlightenment

Review Quotes
Julie Hardwick, University of Texas at Austin
“An elegantly written, ambitious, and pioneering book. Roberts persuasively—indeed brilliantly—situates family as central to the Enlightenment in terms of lived experience, self-fashioning, potent discursive metaphor, and production of knowledge. By paying close attention to the lives of philosophes as well as their writings, Sentimental Savants utterly transforms our understanding of pivotal dynamics that produced the Enlightenment.”
Suzanne Desan, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Sentimental Savants is an intriguing and original interpretation of the Enlightenment. By probing the private lives of Enlightenment authors, Roberts explores how they transformed their own families into sites of inspiration and experimentation as they redefined social ideals and crafted their own personae. She vividly demonstrates the pivotal role of emotion and intimacy in generating the Enlightenment as a powerful collective movement.”
Jay M. Smith, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sentimental Savants is a gracefully written, ambitious, deeply researched book that makes excellent contributions to the study of the Enlightenment, the social experience of the philosophes, the culture of intellectual life in the eighteenth century, the history of the family, and the early modern process of self-fashioning. Roberts constructively engages secondary literature on all of these topics and offers many new, brilliant insights. Her argument is subtle, the evidence contextualized and intellectually situated, and her thesis undeniably persuasive. The book is thorough, written with a lively and engaging style, and broken into digestible bits that go down easily. Anyone interested in the history of the Enlightenment, French studies, and the social, cultural, and intellectual history of the eighteenth century will be intrigued by Sentimental Savants.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style |

Chicago Blog: Sociology

Events in Sociology

Keep Informed