Peter Sahlins

Professor
2013-2014
Peter Sahlins

Peter Sahlins is an historian of early modern France who has worked on a range of projects since his foundational work on the French-Spanish boundary and the construction of national identity in the borderland (Boundaries: the Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees, 1989).  He has written about peasant riots and forest history in the nineteenth century (Forest Rites, 1994), and has worked extensively on the social and legal history of nationality law and citizenship in the Old Regime and French Revolution (Unnaturally French, 2007; Taxing Foreigners, 1998). Sahlins' current research project, "The Symbolic LIves of Animals and the Making of Early French Modernity," begins at the Royal Menagerie of Louis XIV, founded in 1663, and traces the textual, anatomical, and visual representations of animal bodies  across the domains of literature, art, and science. Focusing on the unusual concentration of animals and their representations in learned culture in or around 1668 (from La Fontaine's Fables to the first transpecies blood transfusions), he considers how the "Animal Revolution of '68" fundamentally shaped French identities at the beginning of the Classical Age.