E 379S • Was There an English Enlightenment? (Senior Seminar)
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
England contributed greatly to the French and German Enlightenments, with writers like Bacon and Hobbes, Locke and Newton playing founding roles. But there is some question whether, for the period of the 'High Enlightenment' ca. 1740-1780, there was an English Enlightenment. Hume is a major figure of the Enlightenment, but he is usually credited to the Scottish Enlightenment, which had many other stellar figures. The idea of this course is to see whether a case can be made for writers like Samuel Johnson as a man of the Enlightenment. We will read him beside Hume, and as following after Addison, Mandeville, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, and Pope. With all the texts we read in the course, attention will be given to their literary character, which is inseparable from the ideas they seek to communicate. Far from being an 'Age of Reason', the Enlightenment shows a marked scepticism toward rationalism and an openness to experience that are reflected in the literary character of the works.
Three papers (at least 16 pages in all), participation in class discussion, and an oral report will form the basis of the grade.
Oral report and class participation 25%