Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2006—2007 Forum on Travel
Assistant Professor, Literature, Philadelphia University
Beyond the Nation: Travel and Exile Networks in Napoleonic Europe
Château de Coppet on Lake Geneva, the renowned family estate of Germaine de Staël (1766–1817), served as a gathering place for traveling and exiled intellectuals at the revolutionary turn of the 19th century in Napoleonic Europe. Although de Stael grew up in the Enlightenment salons of Paris, her outspoken views on politics, literature, and women’s rights provoked Napoleon to ban her from the French capital in 1802. She then lived at Coppet, traveling extensively until her death. In this study of the convergence of travel, exile networks, and cosmopolitanism in Napoleonic Europe (1802–1815), Prof. Gardiner has identified over 300 other exiled and often traveling intellectuals from many European countries and the Atlantic world who visited de Staël’s meetinghouse during this period. Because travelers in Europe had virtually to pass through Coppet to get anywhere else, de Staël’s estate became a literal intellectual “way station,” a cross-cultural laboratory of ideas in which the vicissitudes of Imperial travel played a significant role—and, as Prof. Gardiner will show, a singular example of an alternative public sphere in the age of the first French Empire.