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Race and the Enlightenment: A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry
AFAM 325
Spring 2020 not offered
Crosslisting: SISP 324, CHUM 324, RL&L 325

It was during the Enlightenment Era (c. 1760-1800) that scientific reasoning, a belief in progress, and new claims on personal and political liberty swept away a tenacious medieval worldview. It was also during this era, however, that the notion of race crystalized in European and North American thought. Today, we still live with implications of this major shift, be it in classification schemes, anatomical prejudices, or ethnographical myths. This is particularly true for Africans or people of African descent. This class will bring some the Enlightenment's most prominent thinkers into dialogue with the emergency of the concept of race theory. In particular, we will focus on the clash between the Enlightenment era's belief that "all men were created as equals" and the various ways that the Black African came to be studied within "natural history" and various philosophical models. This historical backdrop will lead us not only to a discussion of the economic imperatives of human slavery but to a series of contemporary reflections on the status of the Enlightenment put forward by postcolonial critics. Note: This class is offered in the context of the Wesleyan's Center for the Humanities' "Grand Narratives/Modest Proposals" theme and speakers series.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AFAM
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on JUN-14-2024
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