The World in Question: the Social, Political and Psychological Legacies of the Enlightenment

The details
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
24 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA LQV0 Liberal Arts (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q900 Liberal Arts (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA QV00 Liberal Arts (Including Year Abroad),
BA V900 Liberal Arts,
BA V901 Liberal Arts (Including Placement Year),
BA LL36 Social Anthropology,
BA LL3P Social Anthropology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL6P Social Anthropology (Including Placement Year),
BA L903 Global Studies,
BA L904 Global Studies (including year abroad),
BA L905 Global Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L908 Global Studies (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA P525 Journalism and Liberal Arts,
BA P526 Journalism and Liberal Arts (Including Placement Year),
BA P527 Journalism and Liberal Arts (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL37 Social Anthropology with Human Rights,
BA LL38 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL39 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA LR04 Global Studies and Modern Languages (Including Year Abroad),
BA L910 Global Studies with Politics,
BA L911 Global Studies with Politics (Including year abroad),
BA L912 Global Studies with Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA L913 Global Studies with Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA L914 Global Studies with Human Rights,
BA L916 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA L917 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA L918 Global Studies with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

CS201 provides an interdisciplinary examination of historical and contemporary issues arising from the Enlightenment and its 19th century offspring, industrialism and capitalism. It explores social, political and existential issues that took new forms in the 20th and 21st centuries. It addresses three broad themes: Empire, the Self, and Nature. We start by examining Empire and look at the connections between Enlightenment thought and European expansion, colonialism and cultural domination.

In Part 2, The Self, we move on to look at how new conceptions of 'the self' have been shaped by social, cultural and economic processes. Finally, we consider the changing conceptions of Nature that have arisen from the imposition of capitalist and industrial ways of life on most of the planet. The emphasis is on both on the forces that have caused so much ecological destruction and attempts to maintain and reclaim connections with nature.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

To introduce students to the social, cultural, and economic legacies of the Enlightenment
To foster understanding about the continuities and discontinuities between historical and contemporary processes
To provide students with varied insights into the politics of empire, changing conceptions of the self, and the
ecological impacts of industrialism and capitalism.
To encourage students to engage in interdisciplinary thinking, drawing on approaches from different academic fields

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should have:

A broad understanding of the Enlightenment industrialism and capitalism
The capacity to summarise and engage critically with set texts
The ability to discuss and debate the module topics
The ability to construct arguments drawing on approaches and evidence presented in lectures and classes.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly lecture, plus a weekly seminar that will include staff presentations and class discussion. This module is co-taught by academic staff from Art History, Essex Business School (EBS), History, Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC), Law, LiFTs, Philosophy and Sociology.


  • Gallagher, Amanda Hall; Pecot-Hebert, Lisa. (2007) '“You Need a Makeover!”: The Social Construction of Female Body Image in “A Makeover Story”, W “hat Not to Wear”, and “Extreme Makeover”', in Popular Communication. vol. 5 (1) , pp.57-79
  • Freud, Sigmund; Strachey, James; Gay, Peter. (c1989) Five lectures on psycho-analysis, New York: W.W. Norton. vol. The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud
  • BBC Radio 4 - The Infinite Monkey Cage, Clever Creatures, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0008nyc
  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o. (Mar 1, 1985) 'The Language of African Literature', in New Left Review., pp.24-47
  • Escobar, Arturo. (1999-02) 'After Nature: Steps to an Antiessentialist Political Ecology', in Current Anthropology. vol. 40 (1) , pp.1-30
  • Philosophy 247 Should we pay reparations for wrongs committed in the past?, https://philosophy247.org/podcasts/reparations/
  • The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
  • Philosophy 247 How neo-liberalism has twisted liberalism, https://philosophy247.org/podcasts/neo/
  • Gigoux, Carlos and Samson, Colin. (2017) 'Colonization', in Indigenous peoples and colonialism: global perspectives, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • S3, Episode 1: The Precrime Unit (Jan. 31st, 2019) – Hi-Phi Nation, https://hiphination.org/season-3-episodes/s3-episode-1-the-precrime-unit/
  • Heron, Taitu. (2008) 'Globalization, Neoliberalism and the Exercise of Human Agency', in International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society: Springer. vol. 20 (20) , pp.85-101
  • Moore, Jason. (2015) 'Anthropocene or Capitolocene?: On the Nature and Origins of Our Ecological Crisis', in Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, New York: Verso., pp.169-192
  • Negrin, Llewellyn. (2002-12) 'Cosmetic Surgery and the Eclipse of Identity', in Body & Society. vol. 8 (4) , pp.21-42
  • Pitts-Taylor, Victoria. (c2007) 'Miss World / Ms.Ugly : Feminist Debates', in Surgery junkies: wellness and pathology in cosmetic culture, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press., pp.73-99
  • Denney, Reuel. (2001) From Morality to Morale, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press., pp.37-65
  • James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss | TED Talk, https://www.ted.com/talks/james_balog_time_lapse_proof_of_extreme_ice_loss?language=en
  • Foucault, Michel; Burchell, Graham; Gordon, Colin; Miller, Peter. (1991) "Governmentality" in The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality : with two lectures by, and an interview with, Michel Foucault, pp.87-104, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Conrad, Joseph; Knowles, Owen; Hampson, Robert. (2007) Heart of Darkness, London: Penguin Books. vol. Penguin classics
  • Gordon, Peter E. (2017-05) 'The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump', in boundary 2. vol. 44 (2) , pp.31-56
  • J. Johnston, K. Cairns & S. Baumann. (2017) '"Branding your Unique Identity" In Introducing Sociology Using the Stuff of Everyday Life, 275-302', in Introducing sociology, using the stuff of everyday life, New York, NY: Routledge., pp.275-302
  • Gough, Ian. (2017) 'Post-Growth, Redistribution and Well-being', in Heat, greed and human need: climate change, capitalism and sustainable wellbeing, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.
  • Armstrong, Susan J.; Botzler, Richard George. (2008) De Grazia "Chapter 17 Self-Awareness in Animals'" in The animal ethics reader, London: Routledge.
  • Pretty, Jules. (2013) 'The Consumption of a Finite Planet: Well-Being, Convergence, Divergence and the Nascent Green Economy', in Environmental and Resource Economics. vol. 55 (4) , pp.475-499
  • Huseman, J.Short, D. (2012) 'A slow industrial genocide: tar sands and the indigenous peoples of northern Alberta', in International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 16 (1) , pp.216-237
  • Susan Buck-Morss. (2000) 'Hegel and Haiti', in Critical Inquiry: The University of Chicago Press. vol. 26, pp.821-865
  • Monbiot, George. (2014) 'Greening the Desert', in Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea, and Human Life: Penguin Books.
  • Said, Edward. (1993) 'Two Visions in Heart of Darkness', in Culture and Imperialism, London: Chatto and Windus., pp.19-31
  • Adorno, Theodor. (1997) Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda, London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Durham, Jimmie; Fisher, Jean. (1993) A certain lack of coherence: writings on art and cultural politics pp1-7, London: Kala Press.
  • Tim Jackson: An economic reality check | TED Talk, https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_jackson_s_economic_reality_check?language=en#t-789
  • Armstrong, Susan J.; Botzler, Richard George. (2008) Griffin & Speck "Chapter 16 New Evidence of Animal Consciousness" In The animal ethics reader, London: Routledge.
  • Adorno, Theodor and Max Horkheimer. (2002) 'The Concept of Enlightenment', in Dialectic of enlightenment: philosophical fragments, Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.
  • National Gardening Leave by Andrew Sims and Molly Connisbee| New Economics Foundation, https://neweconomics.org/2012/10/national-gardening-leave
  • Jennifer Stitt "For Rachel Carson, wonder was a radical state of mind" | Aeon Ideas, https://aeon.co/ideas/for-rachel-carson-wonder-was-a-radical-state-of-mind
  • McKibben, Bill. (1999) 'The End of Nature pp 47-61', in The end of nature, New York: Anchor Books., pp.47-91
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwi. (2012) ''Imperialism, History, Writing and Theory' ,Chapter 2 in Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous People', in Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples, London: Zed Books.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework 2500 word Essay 17/01/2020 40%
Coursework Reading Week Assignment 24/02/2020 20%
Coursework 2500 word Essay 24/04/2020 40%
Exam 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
A range of staff from across the university will contribute to the module.
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre General Office - 6.130; Email: istudies@essex.ac.uk.



External examiner

Dr Ross Wilson
University of Nottingham
Director of Liberal Arts
Available via Moodle
Of 42 hours, 40 (95.2%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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