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Tutor: Jake Halford
Office Hours: Friday 2-4pm H.029
Seminar Time: Friday 11-12am

Week 20 - Romanticism


Image: Prometheus Bound

This week we will look at the relationship between the Enlightenment and Romantacism through looking at the family of William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft and Percy and Mary Shelley. If each group could read and find out about the assigned person and the relevant key text in preperation for the seminar.

  • William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft - Vindication of the Rights of Women and Caleb Williams: Lucy, Alex Doyle and Richard
  • Mary Shelley - Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus: Johnathan, Alex and Jack
  • Percy Shelley - Prometheus Unbound: Larry, Harry and Chloe

It will be useful to try and find out about the mythical figure Prometheus in order to unstand both the works of Mary and Percy Shelley.

Week 19 - German reactions to the Enlightenment

wonderer above the sea of fog

Casper David Frederich, The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog


For each person you need to find out about who they were and why they are important. When reading the primary sources from the seminar reading think about how they either develop, reject or follow ideas from the Enlightenment.

  • Schiller - Harry, Alex, Jack
  • Herder -Chole Johnathan, Di
  • Goethe - Alex, Lucy, Larry, Richard

Essential reading

This essay by the historian-philosopher Isaiah Berlin is one of the key texts in the counter-enlightenment. Think about how he conceptualises the Enlightenment in order to define the counter-enlightenment as you read the essay.

Isaiah Berlin, 'The counter Enlightenment', in The Proper Study of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays, Available Online Here.

The idea of the counter-enlightenment has gained traction in recent years and the following article challanges the idea of the counter-enlightenment:

Robert E. Norton, 'The Myth of the Counter-Enlightenment,' Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 68, No. 4 (Oct., 2007), pp. 635-658 Online Here

Other Reading

For a broader discussion see the special edition of Transactions of the APS that collects a variety of essays on the counter-enlightenment:

Isaiah Berlin's Counter-Enlightenment, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, Vol. 93, No. 5 (2003) Online Here

Graeme Garrard, 'Review article: The war against the Enlightenment,' European Journal of Political Theory, (2011) 10: 277

Week 18

Edward Said, Orientalism, 'Introduction', (1978, available here) pp. 4-22.

Chapter 33 of Fitzmaurice, The Enlightenment - available online as an ebook

For Primary reading I would like you all to pick five letters form Montesquieu's Persian Letters available online here. Read as many of them as you can as they are very entertaining and provide a way in which Enlightenment figures used the Persian other to look at French culture. Particular letters that might be of interest are:

Letter 4, Letter 19, Letter 23, Letter 26, Letter 31, Letter 35, Letter 38, Letter 51, Letter 60, Letter 63, Letter 85, and Letter 102

Week 17 - Race and Slavery

Please read ONE chapter from Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze, Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader, Blackwell (Oxford, 1997). A digital transcript of four of the chapters is available here.

D. Outram, 'Cross-cultural encounters of the Enlightenment' in Fitzpatrick ed., The Enlightenment (2004, available via the library)

Primary Material

Read the chapter 'Laws' from Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia available here. 

Along with the excerpt from Diderot on the seminar page.

Week 15 - Trade, the Economy and Consumption

Adam Smith

Portrait of Adam Smith

Primary Reading

For this weeks reading focus on Adam Smith and David Hume passages. It might be worth reading more from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations as well (especially chapters 1-2).

Secondary Reading

Mark Philp, 'The new economics of the Enlightenment,' in M. Fitzpatrick et al (eds.), The Enlightenment World, available online as an ebook

For a good overview of recent attempts to link the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution read:

Gregory Clarke, "The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850: Review Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, 50:1, 2012 Available Here

Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of England 1700-1850 (2009) - Read the Introduction: 'Ideology, Knowledge and Institutions in Economic Change'

Week 14 - War and Empires

Please note that this weeks seminar has moved to Monday 4th February (Week 5) in room H2.41 at 2-3pm.

The primary reading will be the material listed in the seminar guide here. 

The secondary reading is:

"Enlightenment Political Thought and the Age of Empire" and "Kant's Anti-Imperialism" In Enlightenent against Empire, by S. Muthu, 2003. Available online.


"The American Enlightenment - Gordon S. Wood" in Available Online

Ottoman Empire

A Map of the Ottoman Empire (1720)

In the seminar we will focus on the relationship between enlightenment political thought and eighteenth century empires.

Week 13 - The French Revolution

French Revolution

This week we will be looking at the impact of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution. The questions that we will be considering are:

  • To what extent does the French constitution reflect values from the Enlightenment?
  • How responsible was the Enlightenment for the French revolution?
  • How did people outside of France react to the French Revolution?
  • How far do books and ideas really have an effect on revolution?


The excerpts from the seminar page. Focus on the parts from Thomas Paine and and Edmund Burke.

Roger Chartier, The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution (1991). (Especially 'Enlightenment and Revolution: Revolution and Enlightenment' (p3-19) and 'Do Books make Revolutions' (p67-92)

Emma Macleod, "British Attitudes to the French Revolution," The Historical Journal, 50:3 (2007) found here

Outram, Chapter 8

Bonus Extra Reading

'English Reactions to the French Revolution,' Science & Society, Vol. 9 No. 2, 1945 (you will need to find the copy of this journal article in the library)

Week 12 - Field trip to British Museum

No seminar this week. For the trip to the British Museum if each pair could go to the theme they chose and pick one of the objects from the related objects box in the top left of the website. Having picked an object prepare a brief discussion on how that object is related to broader themes that we have discussed so far from the Enlightenment.

Lucy and Harry - Art and Civilisation

Alex and Jack - Classifying the World

Chloe and Jonny - Trade and Discovery

Larry and Richard - Trade and Discovery

Alex and Diudonne - Religion and Ritual

Please ensure that you are at the entrance to the Enlightenment Gallery for 2pm. We shall aim to be finished by 4pm.

In addition, some of you might be interested in visiting the Sir John Soane Museum. Soane was a late eighteenth-early nineteenth century architect whose house contains lots of eighteenth century objects as well as his architectural drawings. A tour there has been booked for a maximum of 15 and these are offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis by emailing me or Spike Sweeting. We should meet at the entrance to the Museum at 11.20 (the tour starts at 11.30).


A useful book to read, or at least have a look at is Enlightenment: Discovering the world in the eighteenth century (2004) edited by Kim Sloan. This book was published by the British Museum when the Enlightenment Gallery first opened.

Week 11 - Law and Natural Rights

This week we will be discussing the social contract by John Jaques Rousseau. The reading will be from the course reading on the list of seminars.

Week 8: Gender

The seminar for week 8 has been moved to Monday 26th November 2-3pm in room H3.43


This week we are going to look at a few different stances on gender. If you could all read the excerpts from Rousseau's Emile and Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication for the Rights of Women. Then look and compare:

Declaration of the Rights of Man, 1789, National Assembly of France, Found here. 

Declaration of the Rights of Woman, 1791, by Olympe De Gouges. Found here.

For context read Outram's chapter 6 on Gender.

Remember to bring your forms for the trip to London.

Week 7: Encyclopedia


Apologies for giving you the wrong instructions in the seminar. This week it is on the Encyclopedia and it is Gender next week. We will follow the reading that has been given on the seminar reading list and read the two passages from Diderot and d'Alembert along with:

Richard Yeo, 'Encylcopedism and Enlightenment', Martin Fitzpatrick et al, The Enlightenment (2004) - ebook Carla Hesse, 'Print Culture in the Enlightenment' chapter 22 of Fitzpatrick.

As you read think about the following questions:

  • Why did the writers and editors of the Encyclopédie seek to order knowledge?
  • What problems, if any, do you think that the Encyclopédie and its systemitising of knowledge into an order has?
  • Why did they think that dictionaries and encyclopedia's were important? Are they still important today?

Week 5: The Public


Primary Reading

For this week you will need to read Kant's famous essay 'What is Enlightenment?'

Secondary Reading

You will also need to have read:

Dorina Outram, Chapter 2: Coffee Houses and Consumers: the social context of Enlightenment

And one of the following.

  • Nancy Fraser, 'Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,' Social Text, No. 25/26 (1990), pp. 56-80 (Available on JSTOR here)
  • The introduction of Melton, The Rise of the public in Enlightenment Europe, (Cambridge University Press, 2002) which is both in the library and an e-book.
  • David Zaret, 'Petitions and the "Invention" of Public Opinion in the English Revolution,' American Journal of Sociology , Vol. 101, No. 6 (May, 1996), pp. 1497-1555 (Available on JSTOR)


  • What is the public sphere? How does this compare to the private sphere?
  • How did the Enlightenment influence public debate and rational-critical discussions?
  • Why does Kant think that a forum for public criticism will help mankind become enlightened?

Week 4: Religion and Reason

Temple of reason

A ceremony of the new Republican Religion of Reason in Notre Dame, Paris, 1793.

Primary reading:

Hopefully you have all read Voltaire's Candide by now. If not then read chapters 1, 6, 20-21 and 30. In reading Candide think about the discussions in the seminar regarding progress, utopia and cultural differences. How does Voltaire satirise these themes within the book?

In addition to reading some of Voltaire I would like Larry, Alex D, Chloe, Jonny, and Kathryn to look at the Author's Preface to Baron D'Holbach's Good Sense, or Natural Ideas Opposed to the Supernatural that can be found here.

The second group namely: Alex J, Lucy, Richard, Jack, and Dieudonne will look at a selection of passages from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason that can be found here.

In looking at the passages think about the way in which the author uses reason and what they say its relationship is to religion. In the seminar we will discuss the way in which reason was used to try and form a rational religion? Can religion be rational and can scientific reason be applied to matters of faith effectively?

Secondary Reading

Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment, Chapter 8

Roy Porter, Enlightenment, Chapter 5

For further information on Candide see: Nicolas Cronk (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Voltaire (2009) Chapter 8, and any other essays in the same volume.

Week 3: Progress and Science

Joseph wright

Joseph Wright, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

Primary Reading

Condorcet and Montagu found here

Secondary Reading

  • Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, The leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, Chapter 2, pp. 22-79 (Ebook in the library)
  • Roy Porter, Enlightenment: Britain and the creation of the Modern World, chapter 6 'The culture of science'
  • Outram, Chapter 4, 'Enlightenment, cross-cultural contact, and the ambivalance of the Enlightenment'


In this seminar we will be asking the questions: What is progress and how did the Enlightenment understand progress? We will consider the impact of the Enlightenment upon the creation of modern science and why Condorcet argued so strongly for progress and if he was justified in arguing for it. We will think about the image above and how Joseph Wright's painting embodied many of the Enlightenment's ideals concerning science and progress.

Week 2: The Ancien Regime

This week the main reading can be found here.

From the secondary readings focus on the first article that can be found online here.

It would also be useful to have read the introduction of Isaac Kramnick's Enlightenment Reader as it gives a good overview of some of the ideas that will be discussed through the module. Excerpts from the introduction can be found here.

Things to think about:

  • From the overview of the Enlightenment given in the lectures this week what ideas do you find most interesting?
  • What was the 'ancien regime'? Does the phrase mean more than just the monarchical order? If so, what other ideas were inherent in it?
  • What assumptions of the ancien regime did the enlightenment react against?