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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 334
Course Title: The European Enlightenment
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Between the last decades of the 1600s and the end of the 1700s, Europe witnessed one of the most important transformations of culture and society in the last several hundred years. This course will examine the work of authors traditionally associated with the Englightenment, such as Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet, and the Scottish moralists, but will also examine figures who are sometimes overlooked in introductory surveys, such as Daniel Defoe, Mary Wollstonecraft and the "literary underground" of starving hack writers. The overall goal of the course is to provide both an extended contract with the works of one particular historical period, and to survey the different ways in which historians have approached the period. Prerequisite: HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

HIST 102 or HIST 112.

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Occasional offering.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

A main text (text 1-2), a document reader (text 3-4) and at least one ancillary text (text 5-10) are required.  Choose the most recent editions.

Additional readings may be assigned as appropriate

The Enlightenment
By Dorinda Outram (Cambridge University Press)
The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents
By Margarot Jacob (Bedford/St. Martins)
The Portable Enlightenment Reader
By Isaac Kramnick
The Enlightenment: A Sourcebook and Reader
By Paul Hyland
Philosophical Letters
By Voltaire (Hackett)
Rameau's Nephew and Other Works
By Diderot (Hackett)
Vindication of the Rights of Women
By Mary Wollstonecraft (Penguin)
Livng the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe
By Jacob, Margaret (Oxford)
The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe
By Melton, James van Horn (Cambridge)
Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment
By Goodman, Dena (Cornell University Press)
Course Objectives
  • To understand the major themes in Enlightenment discourse.
  • To understand the historical context in which Enlightenment intellectuals wrote.
  • To engage deeply with extended primary works from the period of the Enlightenment.
  • To understand comparatively the Enlightenment in select national contexts.
  • To better understand some of the ways historians have interpreted the Enlightenment.
  • To evaluate specific arguments made in historical texts and relate language used in texts to historical factors and contexts.
Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Describe the key themes of the most significant intellectuals of the Enlightenment.
  • Analyze philosophical critiques of Old-Regime Europe.
  • Differentiate the various sites and objectives of Enlightenment activism, from the world of salons to the clandestine world of book smugglers.
  • Explain the Enlightenment's conception of the rational individual.
  • Explore responses to the Enlightenment by its detractors.
  • Assess the impact of Enlightenment thought upon European society and culture.
  • Examine the classed and gendered nature of Enlightenment thought.
Topical Outline:

Because the course represents and upper-level history elective, it bears a distinct responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. It must be distinguished as an advanced course by three structural components: extensive reading, intensive writing, and historiographical thinking. It must require advanced students to complete both in class and out of class projects (i.e., midterms, finals, team reports, quizzes, research papers). The course reading load should be at least 1000 pp.; the course writing assignments should total c5000 words.

The major topics include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • The context of Europe in the 1680s
  • Religious disputes and the Enlightenment critique of the church
  • From pantheism to the materialist atheists
  • Voltaire and the campaign against religious fanaticism
  • Academies and the scientific community
  • Coffee houses and enlightened sociability
  • The development of salon culture
  • Writers, publishers and the book trade
  • Secret societies of the Enlightenment
  • The great Encyclopedia project
  • The Scottish moralists
  • The Enlightenment's encounter with non-European societies
  • Women and the Enlightenment
  • National varieties of the Enlightenment: Germany, France, Britain
Culminating Experience Statement:

Material from this course may be tested on the History Assessment Test (HAT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


Recommended maximum class size for this course: 35

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at http://www.ccis.edu/offices/library/index.asp. You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: David Karr Date: August 20, 2014
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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