E 379S • Senior Seminar
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
E 379N (Topic: The Enlightenment) may also be counted.
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 (at least 16 pages in all), participation in class discussion, and (possibly) an oral report will form the basis of the grade.
Class participation 25%
Voltaire, Letters concerning the English Nation, Candide
Addison, Spectator (Essays)
Mandeville, Fables of the Bees
Pope, Essay on Man
Johnson, Rasselas, other writings
Hume, Essays, Natural History of Religion, Dialogues concerning Natural Religion