B421: British Enlightenment

This course is a seminar on the history of Europe between 1685 and 1789 – the period more generally known as the Enlightenment.  We will cover the general chronology of the period in the half of the course, discussing a number of themes including politics, religion, slavery, and gender.  The second half of the course is divided into to modules.  The first examines natural philosophy and exploration in the Pacific.  The second focuses on antiquarianism and the construction of race.    This course will challenge you to develop an understanding of the Enlightenment through close readings of primary documents and historiographical analyses of secondary sources.  Most of our daily meetings consist of discussion and debate rather than lecture.  This requires you to approach this course as a cooperative educational project rather than a lecture-driven, note-taking exercise.  Teams of students will lead daily conversations, and I will guide your interpretations and conclusions.  Therefore, your success in this course relies on your daily preparation and participation.  At the end of this course, my goal is that each of you have a basic comprehension of the European Enlightenment.  You will also have developed strong skills in comprehending, interpreting, and analyzing historical documents and material culture.

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