E 379S • Was There an English Enlightenment?
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
As part of our University-directed self-assessment project, the English Department has initiated an ePortfolio program for English majors. You will be asked to submit, in electronic form, two documents--a one page essay on the English major and a copy of your final paper for the seminar. Additionally, you will be asked to complete a brief four question survey. During the semester, you will receive details from your instructor or from the English Department on completing the survey and submitting the documents on your senior seminar's Blackboard website.
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 was, of course, 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 and the Third Earl of Shaftesbury. Some secondary literature from the ongoing debate about the existence (or not) of 'the English Enlightenment' will be included, but for the most part we will just be reading good writing, with the characteristic Enlightenment blend of intellect and imagination.
Three papers, an oral presentation, and participation in class discussion will form the basis of the grade, in the following proportions:
paper 1 (5 pages) 15%
paper 2 (5 pages) 20%
paper 3 (6 pages) 25%
oral presentation 20%
class participation 25%
A revision of either the first or the second paper is possible where appropriate.