Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World

Overview

This volume attempts to throw fresh light on two areas of Benjamin Franklin’s intellectual world, namely: his self-fashioning and his political thought. It is an odd thing that for all of Franklin’s voluminous writings—a fantastically well-documented correspondence over many years, scientific treatises that made his name amongst the brightest minds of Europe, newspaper articles, satires, and of course his signature on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution—and yet scholars debate how to get at ...

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Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World

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Overview

This volume attempts to throw fresh light on two areas of Benjamin Franklin’s intellectual world, namely: his self-fashioning and his political thought. It is an odd thing that for all of Franklin’s voluminous writings—a fantastically well-documented correspondence over many years, scientific treatises that made his name amongst the brightest minds of Europe, newspaper articles, satires, and of course his signature on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution—and yet scholars debate how to get at his political thought, indeed, if he had any political philosophy at all. It could be argued, that he is perhaps the American Founder most closely associated with the Enlightenment.

Similarly, for a man who left so much evidence about his life as a printer, bookseller, postmaster, inventor, diplomat, politician, scientist, among other professions, one who wrote an autobiography that has become a piece of American national literature and, indeed, a contribution to world culture, the question of who Ben Franklin continues to engage scholars and those who read about his life. His identity seems so stable that we associate it with certain virtues that apply to the way we live our lives, time management, for example. The image of the stable figure of Franklin is applied to create a sense of trust in everything from financial institutions to plumbers. His constant drive to improve and fashion himself reveal, however, a man whose identity was not static and fixed, but was focused on growth, on bettering his understanding of himself and the world he lived in and attempted to influence and improve.

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Editorial Reviews

The Journal of American Culture
Benjamin Franklin’s Intellectual World is an interesting and important contribution to Franklin scholarship. With its emphasis on transatlantic connections, this essay collection will be useful to scholars interested in reconnecting Franklin back to the British and European intellectual world. Furthermore, this collection attempts to further the conversation regarding the central debates and issues in Franklin scholarship. Benjamin Franklin’s Intellectual World is an important contribution to the ongoing legacy of recent work on one of our more elusive founding fathers.
Journal of the Early Republic
The collection of ten papers in Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World is a useful addition to the Franklin scholarship that has been accumulating in the early twenty-first century. It features several pieces that developed out of a conference hosted by the University of Cambridge at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, in March 2007. ... The ten papers in Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World bring to light a figure of inexhaustible richness and importance.
The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer
Benjamin Franklin's Intellectual World is a collection of excellent essays.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611477702
  • Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
  • Publication date: 9/29/2014
  • Pages: 196
  • Sales rank: 1,497,071
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul E. Kerry is an associate professor of history and fellow of the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University. Matthew S. Holland is President of Utah Valley University.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgements

Preface
Lady Joan Reid

Introduction
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more …”
Paul E. Kerry and Matthew S. Holland

Franklin’s Masks: A Play upon Possibility
Michael Zuckerman

Benjamin Franklin Unmasked
Jerry Weinberger

Early Modern Imperialism, Traditions of Liberalism, and Franklin’s Ends of Empire
Carla Mulford

Benjamin Franklin, the Mysterious “Charles de Weissenstein,” and Britain’s Failure to Coax Revolutionary Americans Back into the Empire
Neil L. York

Benjamin Franklin, Student of the Holy Roman Empire: His Summer Journey to Germany in 1766 and His Interest in the Empire’s Federal Constitution
Jürgen Overhoff

Benjamin Franklin and the Leather Apron Men: the Politics of Class in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia
Simon P. Newman

Recasting Franklin as Printer: A Note on Recent Historiography
Doug Thomas

Benjamin Franklin, Richard Price, and the Division of Sacred and Secular in the Age of Revolutions
Benjamin E. Park

Ben Franklin and Socrates
Lorraine Smith Pangle

From Weimar, with Love: Benjamin Franklin’s Influence on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Self-Fashioning
Paul E. Kerry

Afterword
Benjamin Franklin’s Material Presence in a Digital Age and Popular Culture World
Roy E. Goodman

List of Contributors

Index

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