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Dan Edelstein works primarily on eighteenth-century France, which also serves as a convenient launching pad for raids into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the early modern period. His first book, The Terror of Natural Right: Republicanism, the Cult of Nature, and the French Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), examines how liberal natural right theories, classical republicanism, and the myth of the golden age became fused in eighteenth-century political culture, only to emerge as a violent ideology during the Terror. This book won the 2009 Oscar Kenshur Book Prize. He recently published a second book entitled The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), which explores how the idea of an Enlightenment emerged in French academic circles around the 1720's. He is currently working on two book projects: first, on the concept of "counter-mythologies" during the Enlightenment and in the aftermath of the French Revolution; and second, on the "myth of the Revolution."
With J.P. Daughton, Edelstein co-directs the French Culture Workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center, and with Paula Findlen, is a principal investigator for a project called "Mapping the Republic of Letters," which received a three-year Presidential Fund for Innovation in the Humanities grant, and a "Digging into Data" grant from the NEH (read more about the project).He is a founding editor of Republics of Letters, where he also contributes to the Editors' blog.
Edelstein's research was featured in The Europe Center January 2018 Newsletter.