Miracles in the Press: Religious Authority and Intellectual Autonomy in Enlightenment France


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project examines the interrelated cultural, social, and psychological processes by which miracles transformed from symbols of trust in God into symbols of human deception throughout the eighteenth century in France. While studies of religious belief during this period continue to pose reason and faith as the century’s primary competitors, this dissertation argues that individual religious beliefs were most influenced by a growing tension between authority and autonomy. It reveals how publicized debates over miracles generated both distrust in authority, and self-confidence in judging religious doctrines independently. These reciprocal developments led individuals to restructure their religious beliefs to reflect their own perceptions of reliable evidence, witnesses, and legitimate authority.