ABSTRACT

Enlightenment's project of improvement, as a practice and as a model for culture and society. For Addison, removing learning from the cloister and the college a recurrent trope of the Protestant Enlightenment found also in Shaftesbury and Hume was identified with bringing it into the everyday world of feminized conversation at the tea table. The Spectator project of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele is perhaps the most famous example of the eighteenth-century development of a model of culture as a conversable world. Hume himself could be regarded, in some situations at least, as too eager to sacrifice politeness to the cause of enlightenment. To insulate conversation from conflict in the name of smooth exchange was to fall into the trap of identifying Enlightenment. The trajectory of her career in the 1790s illustrates some of the displacements that started to transform the idea of the conversation of culture at the end of enlightenment in practice and in print.