The American Enlightenment (HISTORY 251C)
The eighteenth century saw the rise of many exciting new political, religious, and scientific theories about human happiness, perfectibility, and progress that today we call "the Enlightenment." Most people associate the Enlightenment with Europe, but in this course we will explore the many ways in which the specific conditions of eighteenth-century North America --such as slavery, the presence of large numbers of indigenous peoples, a colonial political context, and even local animals, rocks, and plants--also shaped the major questions and conversations of the people who strove to become "enlightened." We'll also explore how American Enlightenment ideas have profoundly shaped the way Americans think today about everything from politics to science to race. The class is structured as lecture and discussion, with deep reading in primary sources from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI