After studying philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Barbara Carnevali defended a PhD dissertation on Rousseau under the direction of Remo Bodei in 2001. She continued her education at the University of Chicago as a Fulbright Scholar (2003-2004) and at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (post-doctoral work, 2006-2008). Dr Carnevali has taught the history of modern and contemporary philosophy at the University of Piedmont, and is currently a guest lecturer at EHESS. A member of EHESS's CRAL (Centre for Research on Arts and Language) and ENS’s Centre for Research on the Relationship between Literature, Philosophy and Morals, Dr Carnevali is also an editor for the philosophical journals Iride (Il Mulino) and Iris. Philosophy and Public Debate (Florence UP). Her research focuses on social philosophy (i.e. social aesthetics and the culture of appearances, the theory of recognition and symbolic power), anthropology of the comparative passions (amour-propre, vanity, envy, honour, glory, distinction, etc.), and the relationship between literature and philosophy, in both a genealogical and theoretical perspective. She has published Romanticismo e riconoscimento. Figure della coscienza in Rousseau (Bologna, Il Mulino, 2004; French augmented trans. Romantisme et reconnaissance. Figures de la conscience chez Rousseau, Geneva, Droz, 2012 ; Il mondo delle apparenze. Un'estetica sociale (Bologne, Il Mulino, 2012, in press) ; an annotated italian translation of Rousseau’s Social Contract, and articles on the history and theory of recognition, Hobbes, the moralist tradition, Proust, René Girard, and Pierre Hadot.
With this research project, I propose to write the first comprehensive study of the heritage of the French moralist tradition (in particular: Montaigne, Pascal, Charron, Nicole, La Rochefoucauld and La Bruyère) in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This moral-literary tradition exerted a strong influence on Rousseau’s system of ideas and style of thought, influencing the tone and the themes of his reflection (notably his interest in human motives and passions), shaping his vocabulary, and refining his analytical, phenomenological and genealogical approach. Despite this subject’s major philosophical, historical, and literary interest, scholars have not been investigated in depth. I intend to scrutinize the entire existing bibliography, to plug gaps, and try to articulate specialist studies from a more comprehensive and consistent historical-philosophical perspective. My investigation is especially focused on the notion of amour-propre, which can be considered as the centre of gravitation of all moralist anthropologies, both from a psychological and from a social perspective. All the authors that I want to examine wrote important pages on this passion. Through the specific lens of amour-propre it will be easier to situate the particular place held by Rousseau in the line of the moralist tradition, and to assess the continuity and discontinuity of his relation to it.