Katharine Hamerton Presents Two Papers on Her Scholarship on Fashion and the French Enlightenment

Hamerton presented two scholarly papers this winter at the 2019 MLA Conference and the Modern France Workshop at the University of Chicago.

Humanities, History, and Social Sciences Associate Chair and Associate Professor Katharine Hamerton attended the 2019 MLA Annual Convention where she presented her paper titled, “The Contagious Imagination, the Social Order, and Malebranche's Cerebral Science of Fashion” at the 18th-century French Forum’s “How Brains Work” session. Hamerton’s paper explained the neurological elements that helped cause fashion according to the French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche, and explored how he saw Providence at work in human neurology, designed to keep human beings bonded in society. The annual convention of the Modern Language Association is the largest annual gathering of language and literature scholars in the country and “provides opportunities for its members to share their scholarly findings and teaching experiences with colleagues and to discuss trends in the academy.”

Hamerton also presented an article-in-progress, “Visible and Invisible Bonds: Malebranche, Fashion and the Enlightenment’s Science of Society," at the Modern France Workshop at the University of Chicago. The Modern France Workshop provides “a forum for faculty and students from various departments in the social sciences and the humanities who share a common interest in France and the Francophone world from the mid-seventeenth century to the present.” Her article discusses Malebranche’s views on fashion in the context of Enlightenment social thinking, pleasure, and taste—all material she explores in a chapter of her book-in-progress on Malebranche.