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The Enlightenment in PracticeAcademic Prize Contests and Intellectual Culture in France, 1670-1794$
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Jeremy L. Caradonna

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450600

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450600.001.0001

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The Practical Enlightenment

The Practical Enlightenment

The Concours Académique, the State, and the Pursuit of Expertise

(p.180) Chapter 6 The Practical Enlightenment
The Enlightenment in Practice

Jeremy L. Caradonna

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the concours académique helped the state in finding potential experts, extracting practical knowledge from the hermetic world of letters and putting it to use for its own benefit and for the benefit of the greater society. In nineteenth-century France, higher education and a rapidly expanding bureaucracy supplanted the freewheeling world of public intellectual life that had thrived in the waning years of early modernity. As a result, the monarchy, while relying on knowledgeable academicians to judge competitions and synthesize the results, increasingly abandoned its exclusive reliance on institutional elites in favor of public input. The state frequently organized academic prize contests to locate (or supplement) technocratic information and increase its network of technical informants. This chapter explains how the concours presented the state with an easy system for locating and assessing the research of nonacademic scholars.

Keywords:   concours académique, experts, France, higher education, bureaucracy, intellectual life, academic prize contests, technocratic information, technical informants, research

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