The project 'Agents of Enlightenment. Changing the Minds in Eighteenth-Century Northern Europe' examines how evidence-based knowledge and radical philosophy affected identities, representations and practices at an individual and local level in the Baltic area between 1740 and 1810. By emphasising the individuals and practices behind intellectual change, the project goes beyond the traditional scholarly debates on the essence of the Northern European Enlightenment.
The project combines the issues and methods of intellectual history with those of social and cultural history. The research is carried out in the form of three case studies, which analyse the readings, personal writings, networks and intellectual activities of medical doctors, diplomats and government officials.
The project is relevant to intellectual and cultural historians, but also in a larger perspective. It serves as a reminder of the immediate and concrete consequences of knowledge or its absence, use or misuse.