FR 390L • VOLTAIRE, DIDEROT AND ROUSSEAU
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
The most general aim of this course is to provide a more nuanced understanding of each of these three French Enlightenment thinkers than that which can be gleaned through those works that have been deemed canonical. In addition to reading such texts Candide, Jacques le fataliste and excerpts from Les Confessions, we will also examine lesser known works by Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau, such as L'Histoire de Jenni, Les Bijoux indiscrets and Le Devin du village. Special attention will be paid to the way in which the respective philosophies of each of these three thinkers are reflected, critiqued and at times complicated through literary representation. Throughout the course we will be reading the correspondence of each of these three thinkers in an effort to understand better their views on prevailing philosophical discourses of the period and to elucidate the points upon which they agreed and disagreed, as well as the complexity of their interpersonal relationships. Critical studies will compliment our readings of primary texts, as will excerpts from works by contemporaneous writers, such as Holbach, Helvétius and Condillac.
Grading includes a seminar paper, regular position statements, a brief presentation and class participation.