Yann Robert Lecture: “The First Vigilante: Natural Law, Slavery, and the Killer Cobbler”

Date / Time

April 20, 2021

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Yann Robert, Department of French and Francophone Studies
2020-2021 Institute for the Humanities Faculty Fellow Lecture

April 20, 2021 at 4 PM via zoom

Register in advance for this meeting: https://uic.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwucOCurzguH9w7m0HcwVTqyt8eJFKBTDlA

“The First Vigilante: Natural Law, Slavery, and the Killer Cobbler”

Vigilantism is widely regarded as a uniquely American phenomenon, originating in the American Revolution and Frontier. Yet the first story about a modern vigilante appeared decades earlier in France. This 1730 tale of a killer cobbler leads me to propose a new genealogy of vigilantism, linking its birth and raison d’être to natural law theory and slavery.

Yann Robert is an Associate Professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His book, Dramatic Justice: Trial by Theater in the Age of the French Revolution, was recently published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. In 2018, he was awarded UIC’s Rising Star Award in the Humanities, Arts, Design and Architecture. His research examining the interaction between theater, justice, and politics in Enlightenment and Revolutionary France has received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, notably through a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University and a one-year research fellowship at the Newberry Library, as well as from the Jacob K. Javits and the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundations.

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