Focus 3: European humanism or the construction of a Europe “for itself,” between affirmation and identity crisis

Extract of Le Canzoniere (Song Book) or Rerum vulgarium fragmenta (Fragments composed in vernacular), a collection of 366 poems by Petrarch.

Under the direction of Professor Denis Crouzet, the different teams involved in Research Area 3 focus on the longue durée, a European history emphasizing culture, representations, and socio-religious identities. To this end, six main subjects have been selected over the long term in the continent’s various regions.

1. The appropriation of Greco-Roman culture–the “humanities”–as a potential path for Europe, and a unifying element in European culture
An examination of Europe’s capacity to revitalize itself by appropriating the Ancients, with varying degrees of intensity and awareness.

2. Europe as model for the Republic of Letters
A European history, from the time of Erasmus to the present, grasped as a mirror of the places, actors, and dynamics that led to the creation of intellectual sociability and the circulation of ideas. 

3. The invention of an identity through self-questioning
During a transperiod timeframe spanning the last five centuries, self-consciousness has also been expressed through self-rejection, with Europe discovering that examination of itself and its bloodiest divisions was an inseparable part of European identity.

4. The Europe of religions
A history of Europe cannot avoid the question of religion over the long term, from relations between Catholics and the Orthodox after the Great Schism, to those between the Church and “heresy” throughout the Middle Ages, between Catholics and Protestants after the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, and between Christians and Muslims in the contexts of colonialism and post-colonial immigration.

5. Europe as an imaginary self and other
The analysis of European identity cannot ignore the understanding of the social imaginaries that spread through the European scale, for identity functions through the projections produced by a society, which in turn sets them up as an ideal or a foil. 

6. The Europe of peace and joint projects
Since at least the Peace of Utrecht (1715), consciousness of a regional solidarity likely to lead to a common political project has injected life into cultures of peace, along with their imaginaries as models for pacifying international relations, which gradually emerged.


Research Area Director: 

  • Denis Crouzet: Professor and Director of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). Political and religious history, and the history of the imaginary during the sixteenth century.

Postdoctoral fellow in charge of research: 

  • Pierre Couhaut: Associate member of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne), postdoctoral fellow in charge of Research Area 3. 

Steering committee:

  • Jean-Christophe ATTIAS: Director of Studies at l’Ecole pratiques des Hautes études, member of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). History of religion and Judaism, notably of medieval Jewish thought (6th – 17th centuries).
  •  Laurence BADEL: Professor and Director of l’Institut Pierre Renouvin (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne). Modern history of diplomacy, managerial circles in the European space, and diplomatic practices (19th – 21st centuries).
  • Lucien BÉLY: Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). History of diplomacy in Europe during the early modern period. 
  •  Caroline CALLARD: Assistant Professor and member of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). Italian History (16th – 18th centuries): cultural history, historical anthropology, the history of history, memoirs, the pasts of individuals, societies, and groups.
  • Elisabeth CROUZET-PAVAN: Professor and member of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). History of the final centuries of the Middle Ages, notably in Italy (communal period and Renaissance), with a focus on the problematics of urban cities, societies, and economies, as well as of those in power and their imaginaries.
  • Jean-François DUNYACH: Assistant Professor and member of the Centre Roland Mousnier (Université Paris-Sorbonne). History of the Enlightenment in the Atlantic space, history of political economy (late 18th – early 19th century), and the intellectual and cultural history of Great Britain during the 18th century.
  • Jean-Michel GUIEU: Assistant Professor and member of l’Institut Pierre Renouvin (Université Paris 1). History of legal pacifism (19th – 20th century), international organizations (League of Nations, UN), history of militants and pro-European movements (first half of the 20th century), as well as the history of jurists, European systems, and European construction (19th – 20th century).

Contact: humanisme.ehne[at]

Research notebook :