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Enlightenment in a Smart City

Edinburgh's Civic Development, 1660-1750

Murray Pittock

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Why did Enlightenment happen in Edinburgh?

This is a study of Enlightenment in Edinburgh like no other. Using data and models provided by urban innovation and Smart City theory, it pinpoints the distinctive features that made Enlightenment in the Scottish capital possible.

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Chapter 1: Remembering and Inventing Enlightenment
Chapter 2: Edinburgh and the Canongate 1660-1750: communications, networks, the routers of change
Chapter 3: Trades and Professions
Chapter 4: The Arts
Chapter 5: Taverns, Associations and Freemasonry
Chapter 6: Booksellers, Newspapers and Libraries

About the Author

Murray Pittock is Bradley Professor at the University of Glasgow, Pro Vice-Principal and Honorary Scottish History Adviser to the National Trust for Scotland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Historical Society and the English Association and a prize lecturer of both the RSE and the British Academy.He has held senior appointments at the universities of Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Manchester, and visiting appointments in history and literature globally at universities including Yale, Trinity College, Dublin, New York University and Charles University, Prague. Recent publications include The Scots Musical Museum (2 vols, 2018); Culloden (2016) and Material Culture and Sedition (2013). His current projects include The Collected Works of Allan Ramsay (funded by the AHRC, 2018-23), The Scottish Heritage Partnership (on VR and Immersive design and procurement, funded by EPSRC-AHRC) and Robert Burns and the Scottish Economy (funded by Scottish Government).


Murray Pittock has now done for Enlightenment what he did for Jacobitism: take something that we thought we knew and show us what it really was and what it can be for us. By discovering the "mechanics" of Enlightenment in a "smart city" in the past, he helps us envision what we might do with our cities today.

- Clifford Siskin, Director, The Re:Enlightenment Project, New York university

Murray Pittock’s revelatory study of "the mechanics of Enlightenment" is an essential book for anyone interested in Edinburgh, eighteenth-century Scotland, and cultural history more broadly. Focusing on infrastructure, networks and institutions rather than individuals, Pittock provides a model account of how certain cities become centres of intellectual and artistic innovation.

- Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley

It makes an extremely valuable contribution to Scottish history in this period, and urban and Enlightenment history more generally. I would also like to praise how readable it is, very much a page turner. I found it frequently highly compelling, and dripping with interesting snippets. Also I would like to praise the decision to initially publish the book as a low-cost paperback alongside a more costly hardback version. This is still relatively unusual for an academic history book, and makes the book affordable for a wider audience, as it deserves to be.

- Viv Dunstan

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