Providence Athenaeum is a unique library and cultural center that welcomes and enriches the educational and cultural pursuits of its members and the community and encourages a diverse public to engage in spirited conversation. Providence Athenaeum offers a wide range of experiences by providing and conserving extraordinary collections, offering innovative and compelling programs, promoting and collaborating with the community’s vibrant cultural sector, and highlighting and preserving its historic building.
RISD Assistant Professor of History of Art + Visual Culture Daniel Harkett on “Learning to Talk in Nineteenth-Century French Salons,” part 1 of “The Cosmology of Conversation,” a series on the history of the salon.
Although spontaneous wit was highly valued in historical salons, hosts and guests worked hard to create the conditions for good conversation. Salonnières selected appropriate meeting times, manipulated seating arrangements, and proposed activities for their assembled groups; visitors learned conventions of rhetoric and comportment in order to participate effectively. Daniel Harkett will share some examples of salon arrangements from nineteenth-century France and consider how conversation was staged productively in that time and place. He will ask: What did salonnieres and salon participants consider to be ideal salon conversation? How did they try to achieve this ideal? What cultural needs did conversation meet?
This event is free and open to the public.