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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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Intellectuals and the Republic

Intellectuals and the Republic

(p.334) 37 Intellectuals and the Republic
The French Republic

Jerrold Seigel

Cornell University Press

This chapter assesses the role of the intellectuals in France's political arena, most notably in the matter of the Dreyfus Affair. In its most general sense, the term “intellectual” might refer to any person who dwells in the world of thought. During the 1890s, however, the word took on a particular meaning in France, referring to those thinkers, writers, artists, and teachers who come forward to play a role in public debate. The crystallization of this meaning took place in connection with the fierce conflicts that divided the country over the conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus for treason, and it led to a new prominence for those it designated. The chapter shows how this and several other distinguishing features of French life had made France into a place where intellectuals earliest and most prominently assumed this role in the nation's public sphere.

Keywords:   French intellectuals, public debates, Dreyfus Affair, Alfred Dreyfus, French politics

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