It is the goal of this conference to examine this entangling of social constellations and discursive practices and thereby to reconsider the relationship between European royal courts and the protagonists of the Enlightenment and their ideas.
Two basic issues stand in the foreground:
First, European courts should be considered as Enlightenment "places of encounter." How and how much were Enlightenment projects and authors tied to royal courts? Were courts not among the most important institutional and social spaces for Enlightenment practices? Other institutional and social communicative spaces (such as universities, academies, societies, salons, clubs, Freemason lodges, etc.) can be identified as centers of the Enlightenment in some countries, but not across Europe generally. Nevertheless, until now research on the Enlightenment has focused on these various institutionalizations of sociability and intellectualism and largely neglected to consider princely courts.
Second, it should be asked why royal courts were so often a focus of criticism, especially for Enlightenment authors, despite courts' important function in the Enlightenment. Therefore, to understand the social and political function of anti-court discourses in the context of the courts is another important issue for this conference.