Diana I Behler
Builds upon themes and topics introduced in EURO 301. Provides rigorous and specialized investigation of European political institutions, societies, and cultures in the modern era. Prerequisite: EURO 301.
This course will investigate some of the main currents of philosophical, literary, cultural, and political thought of the 18th century that came to be known as the European Enlightenment. Issues of individual freedom, citizenship, human rights and duties, as well as race, gender, and class structure enter into the picture, in a mix of optimism and idealism, rationality and equality, counterbalanced by limitations of reason and reassessments of human possibilities, eventually leading to revolution and romanticism. We will read texts that develop new ideas about the human condition by authors such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Godwin, the French Encylopedists (Diderot, d’Alembert, e.g.), Kant, Wollstonecraft, Lessing, Mendelssohn, as well as Jefferson and Paine. But we will also analyze plays and stories that mirror the fissures of reason and potential pitfalls of political, religious, and social structures, such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Goethe’s The Sufferings of Young Werther, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Kleist’s Betrothal in Santo Domingo, and Büchner’s The Death of Danton. Analyzing some premises of the American and French Revolutions, we will conclude with a critique of enlightenment ideals and the notions of progress and perfectibility as well as insights about the limits of enlightenment and the French Revolution. Some films will also be utilized in the course. Offered jointly with GERMAN 390.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
The Portable Enlightenment Reader (ed. Isaac Kramnick), The Enlightenment (Dorinda Outram), Goethe’sThe Sufferings of Young Werther, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Kleist’s Betrothal in Santo Domingo, Büchner’s Woyzeck, Voltaire’s Candide.
Class assignments and grading
discussion participation, mid-term exam, and several short papers