The World Transformed: The Enlightenment and Its Critics
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC)
Undergraduate: Level 4
Sunday 15 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
20 May 2022
Requisites for this module
Ours is a world that seems to be shaking at its very foundations. Ideas that have shaped the way we see ourselves and the world around us – ideas like democracy, free speech, citizenship, political authority, individualism, free markets, and human rights – are contested at every turn.
These ideas took their definitive modern form during a period of political and intellectual upheaval known as the Enlightenment (ca. 1650-1800). If we want to navigate our way through the chaos of today, then we need to return to the roots of our contemporary world – the Enlightenment.
This interdisciplinary module explores this revolutionary period so that we can better understand our world today and bring about the world we want tomorrow. We will focus on debates surrounding knowledge, censorship and freedom of speech, the state of nature of the scope of political authority, and colonialism. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they've taken.
The aim of this module is demonstrate to students that some of the most powerful discourses of the Enlightenment period and the reactions to the discourses are relevant to our present situation and remain powerful tools to analyse and understand the world we live in.
A related aim is to provide students with a framework and background knowledge to navigate successfully their studies in future years.
The following Learning Outcomes will be demonstrated through successfully passing the coursework assessment:
1. To read, assess and summarise the arguments of challenging texts.
2. To learn the conventions of an academic writing including structure, quotation, reference, and bibliography.
3. To show the ability to work from particular questions on a specific text, and to write a coherent essay in response.
4. To assess and evaluate specific arguments and texts and write a critical analysis.
5. To compare and contrast two or more selected texts in one particular aspect, and express their similarities and differences.
6. To explicate a set passage from one of the texts on the programme, to relate it to rest of the text and to fit it in the contextual, conceptual and comparative framework, the Enlightenment itself, established during the module.
7. To test the ability to respond to general, thematic questions that demand a broad grasp of the intellectual and historical developments considered in the module.
8. To analyse types of language of a set passage and to relate that language to historical and discursive factors.
The Enlightenment (roughly 1650-1800) was a politically and intellectually revolutionary period of history that defined the ideas that continue to shape the way we see ourselves and the world we live in - ideas like democracy, free speech, political authority, individualism, egalitarianism, scientific evidence, feminism, and cultural relativism.
By examining this period, this interdisciplinary module provides students with a crucial framework for understanding today's dominant intellectual currents - a framework that proves remarkably useful for students in their second and third year coursework. Indeed, graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they've taken. Built on a spine of lectures delivered by staff from across the Faculty of Humanities, this interdisciplinary module covers topics such as the aftermath of the Scientific Revolution, free speech, the English civil war, social contract theory, and the great age of discovery and exploration. We will draw on artworks, poetry, novels, political pamphlets and speeches, as well as philosophical texts.
The module will be divided into three thematic blocks. In 2020-21, they will be Knowledge and Censorship, State and Authority, and Colonialism. The clusters offered may change from time to time.
The module will demonstrate how all of these topics remain central to our experience today, and how we can learn from past discourses how to understand the present.
There will be a one-hour lecture and one-hour class/seminar each week. There will also be a Reading Week when no teaching will take place, exact week TBC.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Reading Quizzes Total
||Essay 1500 words
||Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period)
||Reassessment exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during September (Reassessment Period)
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Fabian Freyenhagen, email: email@example.com.
No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.
* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.
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