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“Superbly researched, energetically argued, and extremely well written… One ends by admiring the quality and breadth of Pichichero's research, which has triumphantly placed the conduct of war squarely within the domain of the Enlightenment, and indeed turned 'military enlightenment' from an oxymoron into a truism.”

Colin Jones, review in French Studies

THE Military Enlightenment

Finalist for the Oscar Kenshur Book Prize

for best interdisciplinary book in Eighteenth-Century Studies


Christy Pichichero is Associate Professor of French and History at George Mason University. She earned her A.B. in Comparative Literature at Princeton University, her B.M. in Applied Music (Voice - Opera) from the Eastman School of Music, and her Ph.D. in French Studies from Stanford University. 



curriculum vitae

departmental website


"The Military Enlightenment is comprehensive, original, and significant. It has so many virtues, I hardly know where to begin. It is impressively sweeping in the source material Christy Pichichero mobilizes, daring in its chronology, and beautifully written. It will command the attention of scholars in a wide range of disciplines, including history, literature, philosophy, and psychology."

(Rafe Blaufarb, author of The Great Demarcation)

"Christy Pichichero has written an ambitious, wide-ranging, engaging, and informative book about what she calls the 'military Enlightenment' in eighteenth-century France. Well-researched and clearly presented, it will be read avidly by historians, scholars of eighteenth-century French literature and philosophy, and military historians."

(David A. Bell, author of Shadows of Revolution)

"Christy Pichichero’s thought-provoking work should inspire, or compel, us all to reconsider eighteenth-century military thought in a much broader context. She presents an impressive variety of issues discussed across a range of contemporary genres. Her study of enlightenment France marvelously demonstrates that the consideration of military topics both by professionals and by civilians infuses as well as reflects the intellectual tenor of an age."

(John A. Lynn II, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of Battle)

"The Military Enlightenment provides a refreshing angle in European cultural histories of war. Christy Pichichero unpacks the paradoxical questions that inspired the military enlightenment: how to wage war with greatest economy and efficiency but also how to wage war humanely, with compassion and civility. Pichichero’s work deftly shows how both great and lesser-known minds struggled to achieve these ideals in eighteenth-century France and how the military enlightenment continues to inform war ethics to this day."

(Christian Ayne Crouch, author of Nobility Lost)


Colin Jones in French Studies

Featured Review by Brian Sandberg in the American Historical Review

Christine Haynes in the Journal of Military History

Lieutenant Colonel Jobie Turner for H-War

Christopher Tozzi in The Historian

D.A. Harvey in Choice

Jonathan Abel in History: Reviews of New Books

Adam Storring for H-Soz-Kult (Germany) 


News & Updates


NOVEMBER 1, 2017 - It's here! The Military Enlightenment is now available from Cornell University Press, Amazon, and other booksellers. Please send me an email if you would like to purchase a discounted copy from Cornell UP.

NOVEMBER 8, 2017 - The Western Society for French History has just released the new mission statement! I am so proud and honored to have chaired the committee that created this statement, started the WSFH mentoring program, and inaugurated the conference plenary roundtable and workshop series.

NOVEMBER 9, 2017 - Spring 2018 courses are open for registration at GMU! Check out the French program's offerings. I hope to see you in FREN 329, FREN 470, or FREN 570!

DECEMBER 4, 2017 - The conference plenary roundtable on structural racism in French history and French historical studies has been released as an H-FRANCE salon. You can view the roundtable on my media page.

MARCH 27, 2018 - ASECS friends! I am sorry, but the race and pedagogy workshop from the 2017 Western Society for French History conference is not available online. I will propose to organize one for ASECS 2019 in Denver! Please reach out if you want to talk about teaching race between now and then. Also, be sure to look for my and Emily Marker's H-FRANCE Salon on race, forthcoming in fall 2018.

May 30, 2018 - The Military Enlightenment has been shortlisted for the Kenshur Prize for best book in eighteenth century studies. What an incredible honor. I am humbled and delighted!

Available at  Cornell University Press ,  Amazon , and other booksellers.   Email me  for a discounted rate.

Available at Cornell University Press, Amazon, and other booksellers.

Email me for a discounted rate.


As demonstrated by the current special exhibition, Watteau’s soldiers reveal a paradox: their bodies and minds seem docile, subjugated to military discipline, yet they also relay a vibrant participation in and processing of the experience of war. Discover how this paradox revolutionized military thought during the French Enlightenment and ushered in a new understanding of the costs of war on the human body, mind, and heart. This event was recorded live at The Frick Collection, New York on September 21, 2016.

Western Society for French History 45th Annual Conference Reno, Nevada 4 November 2017

Conference Plenary Roundtable: Addressing Structural Racism in French History and French Historical Studies

Chair and Organizer: Christy Pichichero, George Mason University

University Discussants:

Jennifer Boittin, Pennsylvania State University Muriam Haleh Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz; Minayo Nasiali, University of California, Los Angeles; Felix Fernand Germain, University of Pittsburgh; Tyler Stovall, University of California, Santa Cruz; Robin Mitchell, California State University, Channel Islands; Emily Marker, Rutgers University-Camden; Nimisha Barton, Princeton University; The Audience