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The Enlightenment and the Birth of the Modern World
COL 110
Spring 2011 not offered
Crosslisting: HIST 124, RELI 271

The Enlightenment is said to have given birth to democracy, human rights, feminism, emancipation, and secularism--in short, to the characteristic strivings of Western modernity. Yet it has also at times been attacked for paving the way for totalitarianism, racist universalism, and modern bureaucratic genocide. In this course we will study key texts and ideas from the Enlightenment, placing them in their historical and social context of the 18th century. We will look at revolutions in thinking about history, economy, society, crime and punishment, government, and religion. A key theme will be the encounter of Enlightenment thought with popular religious practice and the persistence of traditional religious institutions. How did the mind of the Enlightenment seek to shape the future of European society? If traditional religious and political structures were to be superseded by secular culture and forms of governance, how was virtue to be preserved in a modern commercial society? How did the Enlightenment react to its successes and, more important, its failures? Finally, we will look at a few key interpretations of the Enlightenment in recent times. Did Enlightenment thinkers refashion Christianity in their construction of a heavenly city, or were they agents of the rise of modern paganism? Was the Enlightenment exclusively a Western phenomenon? How are conceptualizations of the Enlightenment today being employed in debates about the nature of modernity and pressing questions about religion, secularism, and human rights, both at home and abroad?

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS COL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on JUN-23-2024
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