Modern and Contemporary French Literature: History, Criticism, Theory


The Republic of Knowledge, a new research unit


On January 1, 2014, the National Center for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, CNRS), the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris and the Collège de France came together unite to create a new research unit: The Republic of Knowledge: Humanities, Sciences, Philosophy (USR 3608). The team includes researchers in literature, history and philosophy of science and the arts, and philosophy, all focused on the study and transmission of essential works and currents of thought in the intellectual history of Europe over a historical period stretching from the late Middle Ages to contemporary times. Antoine Compagnon directs the unit.

            The new team's research program expands the scope of the association created in 2008 by Marc Fumaroli, Respublica literaria, extended through the creation of a CNRS research unit, The Republic of Literature, in 2009, also directed by Antoine Compagnon.

            The European history of the Republic of Literature, that is to say, of intellectual, scientific, literary and artistic exchanges, involves opening literary disciplines to the arts, sciences and philosophy. The strong transdisciplinarity of the new team is organized around a number of common themes, while leaving ample room for more extensive research in each of the disciplines represented on the team.

            Some examples of joint research projects include scientific and literary controversies in the classical or contemporary age, and intellectual and scientific Europe around World War I. The Bridges between Disciplines program studies the organization of scientific and literary disciplines and their distribution and redistribution from the privileged observatory provided by a study of the successive Chairs created at the Collège de France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The ornament art history seminar is held every month at the Collège de France.

            A transdisciplinary team approach is particularly valuable for issues centering on life sciences, as is the study of upheavals in knowledge due to the transformation of biological sciences over the last sixty years and the relationship between medicine and the humanities. The study of moral categories, such as those centered on issues of war and peace, humanism, moral norms, issues relating to ethics and political life today, and the role played therein by aesthetics, writing, literature, all benefit from this approach.

The six sections of the research unit

Res literaria
Building on the work of Marc Fumaroli, Honorary Professor at the Collège de France, Res literaria highlights the relationship between literati, scholars, artists and men of science who forged the history of Europe despite very different national characters, economic, political and religious conflicts, and seeks to find in the modern age the spirit of cooperation of the Republic of Literature.

Centre for Research on the Relationship between Literature, Philosophy and Morality (Centre de recherche sur les relations entre littérature, philosophie et morale, CRRLPM)
Through a transdisciplinary approach enhancing the relationship between philosophy, literature and morality, initially centered on the classical age, the Centre for Research on the relationship between literature, philosophy and morality specifically focuses on topics going back to ancient sources in moral thinking as well as looking forward to contemporary issues in ethics.

Cavaillès Center
The Center for Philosophy and History of Science combines different approaches – philosophical, historical, and sociological – to the sciences, and pays special attention to the life sciences, including psychology.

The Mathesis section was created in October 2012. The conviction that guides the work of its members is a strictly internalist approach to the history of philosophy, centered on the study of a particular author, is worth expanding in three ways.

International Center for the Study of Contemporary French Philosophy (Centre international d’étude de la philosophie française contemporaine, CIEPFC)
The center proposes to host and develop research on contemporary french philosophy in terms of its specificity, diversity, history, and current practices.

Moral and normative thinking
The section brings together researchers around problems in contemporary moral philosophy, from highly theoretical to applications in the field.

Go to research unit "The Republic of Knowledge"