The eighteenth-century French academic network
The role of the academies in the Republic of Letters is complex. Founded by the State, French academies functioned as semi-autonomous networks of scholars. Using various tools of network analysis, this chapter reveals that the French academies formed a single network, based in Paris, which extended throughout France and across Europe. This academic network was fundamental to the development of the Enlightenment precisely because it was geographically dispersed but also well integrated – largely through the connections of a few academic superstars, who were disproportionately scientists, and of academic connectors, many of whom were famous philosophers.
Part 3: Knowledge Networks