Rousseau 300: Nature, Self and State

  • 9 January - 27 April 2012

This exhibition features rare items from UCL’s art and book collections to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of one of the most controversial authors in the history of philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Among the items on show are first editions of Rousseau’s works, including On the Social Contract (Du contrat social, 1762), frontispieces and translations. The display highlights his unique and interdisciplinary characteristics as a philosopher who not only wrote on politics, economics and education, but also composed music and wrote best-selling novels. A significant part is dedicated to Rousseau’s engagement with the philosophical tradition (from Plato to Locke) and his own posthumous reception by revolutionaries and conservatives alike. Featuring objects from UCL’s collections, the British Museum and the Voltaire Foundation, the show coincides with an international conference marking Rousseau’s tercentenary and a special performance of his rarely produced opera, Le Devin du village (UCL, performance on 20 April, Conference dates: 19-21 April). Information about the Opera and booking details are available here. Conference information can be found here.

This set of events, under the auspices of the UCL Centre for Transnational History, is generously supported by UCL Grand Challenges, the UCL European Institute, the Berendel Foundation, the French Embassy in London, the Swiss Embassy in London, the Fidelio Charitable Trust and the Voltaire Foundation.

Image: Jean-Jacques Rousseau ©Trustees of the British Museum