Barbarity and Enlightenment

Stéphane Lojkine of the Université Aix-Marseille

Friday, March 1st  
5:00 PM in HUMN 135
Reception starts at 4:30pm

dramatic paintin of ancient Roman times

The meaning of the French word barbare was deeply influenced during the Renaissance by the Humanist understanding of Barbarism as misuse of the Greek language. But it also owed much to contrasting Roman usage, which primarily referred to cruelty. Additionally, the country from which the Barbarian was supposed to come changed over time, shifting from Caria in Ionian Greece in the age of Strabo to Germany during the Roman Empire and Migration Period, and from there to the North Africa of the Christian Middle Ages. While the representation of barbarity pervades all post-classical tragedy (especially Voltaire’s), the Enlightenment interrogates the place and status of the Barbarian in the context of Europe’s growing colonial economy, where he takes on the likeness of a fooled native (Diderot). But how may one combine the cruel tyrant of the stage with the savage of the colonies? And might the sublimity associated with the Barbarian as both Cruel and Noble Savage lead us to rethink the barbarity of the dawning age of Revolutionary Terror?

This event is sponsored by the Sadler Lecture Series and by the CU French and Italian Department