|David A. Bell |
(repurposed from his Princeton website)
Bell has written three books and he’s working on a fourth, all of which he helpfully summarizes on his official Princeton bio:
Lawyers and Citizens (Oxford University Press, 1994) examined the politicization of the French legal profession in the eighteenth century, showing how spaces for radical criticism of the French monarchy first opened up within the structure of the French state itself.
The Cult of the Nation in France (Harvard University Press, 2001) argued that nationalism, as opposed to national sentiment, was a novelty of the French Revolutionary period, and that it arose both out of, and in reaction to, Christianity.
The First Total War (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), is a general study of the political culture of war in Europe between 1750 and 1815, which showed how an aristocratic culture of limited warfare gave way to a world in which total war was possible—and in which, between 1792 and 1815, it actually took place.
His major current project is a dual biography of the French Revolutionaries Armand-Louis Gontaut and Charles-Philippe Ronsin—a project that he hopes will illuminate the relationship between politics, literature and war in the age of Revolutions.
In addition to his academic scholarship, Bell writes from time to time for a more popular audience, often in The New Republic like the essay we read (where he is a contributing editor) but in other outlets as well including The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, etc. He provides a nice listing of them (with links) on his personal website davidavrombell.com. Topics range from those specifically about French politics and culture to issues involving American politics, libraries, and print culture more broadly. In 2005, he wrote an award-winning essay entitled “The Bookless Future,” which likely shaped his thinking for his 2012 essay about the bookless library.
One more thing… Bell is the son of the famed Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell, whose work on “post-industrial society” and the changing nature of capitalism we did not read for this class although we easily could have.