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The Subject of Modernity: Theories of the Self in Eighteenth-Century Europe (HI905 - Withdrawn)

This module has now been permanently withdrawn and is no longer taught in the Warwick History Department.

Context of Module

This module may be taken by students on the MA in Eighteenth Century Studies, the MA in History, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.

Module Aims
  • To introduce graduate students of history and related disciplines to the advanced literature on the eighteenth-century origins of the modern self
  • To introduce recent writing on the topic of subjectivity
  • To investigate historically the social spaces and places, situations and relationships, and forms of writing in which the subject of modernity (modern persons) were defined and came into being in the long eighteenth century in Europe.
Intended Learning Outcomes

Following this module will allow graduate students of history and related disciplines to:

  • understand the notion of `modernity' and its origins in the eighteenth-century `dual revolution'
  • analyse and work with a wide variety of literary forms of the period, with a particular emphasise placed on letters and letter-writing, and the emergent novel
  • understand and scrutinise the prescription of feeling and emotion in the eighteenth-century, in the discourse on sensibility, sensitivity and sentimentality
  • become acquainted with the making of feminine and masculine selves in the period. and the transmission of models of gender, through scrutiny of a wide range of conduct, educational and advice literature
  • understand the import of modern post-colonial theory for the eighteenth-century European encounter with the colonial Other
  • understand the emergence of the discipline of `history' in eighteenth-century philology and anthropology
  • increase their expertise in working with a wide variety of textual sources of historical evidence
Outline Syllabus

i) Subjectivity and Modernity : Defining Terms

ii) Sensibility and Social Theory

iii) Writing the Self

iv) The Education of Persons

v) The Epistolary Form: Letters and the Novel

vi) The Eighteenth-century Invention of History

vii) Colonial Encounters

viii) The Wild Boy of Aveyron: A Case Study

Illustrative Bibliography
  • G.J. Barker Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility (1996)
  • John Brewer, Pleasure of the Imagination (1997)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Dictung und Warheit (1811)
  • Jean Itard, `Of the First Development of the Young Savage of Aveyron' (1799)
  • Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World (1993)
  • Roy Porter (ed.) Rewriting the Self (1997)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Johann Herder, Two Essays on the Origin of Language (1966)
  • Adam Smith, The Theory of the Moral Sentiments (1759)
  • Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self (1989)
Other Information

1 x 5,000 word essay.

The essay provides the opportunity, through independent preparation and writing, for students to choose and frame for themselves a topic worthy of analysis in the light of the advanced literature in the area; to construct their own bibliographies from books, articles and websites; to gather evidence and use it to shape a cogent and coherent extended analytical discussion; and where appropriate to deploy evidence from primary sources.