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This original and wide-ranging comparative study examines how emergent literary genres in eighteenth-century Europe participate in the pedagogical project of male subject formation. The author focuses on the intersection of semiotics, pedagogy and aesthetics, and demonstrates how changing models of signification give rise to new strategies in subject formation. Drawing on Foucault, she identifies two major semiotic paradigm shifts in the eighteenth century: first the "transparency model" of the mid-eighteenth century, which presumes that the sign is an ideal representation of the signified; and second the "intransitive" or "self-referential model" that emerges late in the century. With each of these paradigms is associated a conjunction of pedagogical and aesthetic concerns, which the author discusses under the following rubrics: the "project of Anschaulichkeit" and the "project of Bildung."