Abstract: Within a wider research that aims to reconstruct the social milieu of the French philosopher Denis Diderot, this article evaluates three possible methodological approaches of exploiting his entire letter collection, using social network analysis tools (SNA). Two main guidelines articulate my paper: firstly the monographic interest for Diderot’s trajectory and the prosopographic study of the social actors he was linked to, secondly the nature and configuration of the connections between them. SNA promising results seem to respond perfectly to the interactional perspective that I propose. Nevertheless, directly confronted with the particularity of text sources, the historian is driven to adjust the research question and to forge a more cautious – and personal, though circumscribed method.
Keywords: literary field; social networks; digital humanities; Old Regime; Denis Diderot’s Correspondance