Fall 1997, Th 2-4, Robinson 105

Ann Blair, Robinson 216; 5-0752; Office hours: M 2-4; amblair at fas.harvard.edu

History 1452: Conference Course

Crisis in European Consciousness (1680-1715)

This course will examine writings across a number of disciplines during a period identified (most famously in a book by Paul Hazard) as a turning point in attitudes toward authority and tradition, reason and criticism. We will study in their historical contexts major developments of this "pre-Enlightenment" in religion and metaphysics, political theory, education, science and encyclopedism (among other areas). Sources to include works by Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, Bayle, Malebranche and Fénelon.


-regular and active participation, including one (brief!) in-class oral presentation on a piece of assigned extra reading (see syllabus; topics of special interest may be negotiated) (20%)

-one short paper (3-5pp), due Tuesday Oct 14 (week V) (15%)

-take-home "midterm" due Monday Nov 17 (week X) (30%)

-final research paper (topic of your choice, with my agreement) (35%) due Tuesday Jan 13 (last day of reading period)

All assigned readings are on reserve in Lamont and Hilles: you are under NO obligation to buy any of the items available for sale!!

Books on order at the COOP:

"Required" ("C" in syllabus--more than half the book is assigned)

Paul Hazard, The European Mind (Fordham UP, #0823212742; $19.95)--out of print! but the library system has multiple copies

Charles Perrault, Perrault's Fairy Tales (Dover, #0486223116; $5.95)

Pierre Bayle, Historical and Critical Dictionary: Selections (Hackett, #0872201031; $16.95)

Spinoza, Theologico-political Treatise (Dover; 0486202496; $8.95)

Malebranche, ed. Steven Nadler (Hackett; #087220152X; $12.95)

Leibniz, Theodicy (Chicago: Open Court; 0875484379; $14)

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge UP; #0521357306; $10.95)

Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (U California P; #0520071719; $12.95)

Sourcepack (includes items marked with *)

Recommended ("R" in syllabus--less than half the book is assigned):

Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge UP; #0521425344; $15.95)

Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre (Random House; #0394729277; $13)

Margaret Jacob, The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution

Newton, ed. I. Bernard Cohen and Richard Westfall (Norton; #0393959023)


For presentations (completely optional: library has copies to check out too)

Fénelon, Adventures of Telemachus (Cambridge UP; #30521456622; $19.95)

Samuel Pufendorf, On the duty of man according to natural law (Cambridge UP; #0521425344; $15.95)




Week I (Sept 18): setting the stage--Europe ca. 1680

Suggestions for background reading: John B. Wolf, The emergence of the great powers 1685-1715 and Pierre Goubert, Louis XIV and Twenty Million Frenchmen


Week II (Sept 25): historiography on the origins of the Enlightenment

Reading: (R) Paul Hazard, The European Mind, Part I, chs. 1-3.

*Kant, "What is Enlightenment?" (1784)

(R) Michel Foucault, "What is Enlightenment," Foucault Reader (1984), pp. 45-56.

(R) Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment chs. 1-2.


Part I: the breakdown of tradition


Week III (Oct 2): historical criticism--Pierre Bayle

Reading: (C) Pierre Bayle, Historical and Critical Dictionary, selections + *selection from Miscellaneous thoughts on the comet of 1680

Hazard, Part I, chs. 4-5

(R-reprint) Elizabeth Labrousse, "Reading Pierre Bayle in Paris" in Kors, Anticipations, pp. 7-16.


Week IV (Oct 9): rationalism

Reading: (C) Malebranche ed Steven Nadler

(R) Margaret Jacob, The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution, ch. 2 (on Cartesianism), pp. 54-72.

Hazard, Part II, chs 1-2.


SHORT PAPER DUE TUESDAY OCT 14, 5pm: on the decline of witchcraft (handout to be distributed), based on these extra readings: *Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971), pp. 641-68; *Alan Kors, ed., Witchcraft in Europe 1100-1700: a documentary history (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972), pp. 236-46, 276-79, 332-41, 358-59, 369-77.


Week V (Oct 16): biblical criticism

Reading: *selections from Richard Simon (copies from microfilm)

*Richard Popkin, "Spinoza and biblical criticism" in Cambridge Companion to Spinoza

(C) Spinoza, Theologico-political treatise

Hazard, Part II, chs. 3-4

Presentation: on La Peyrere


Week VI (Oct 23): attempt at reconciliation--Leibniz

Reading: (C) Leibniz, Theodicy

Hazard, Part II, ch. 5.

Presentation: (R) Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and monadology or Writings on China


Part II: reconstruction


Week VII (Oct 30): Newton

Reading: (C) Newton, ed. I. Bernard Cohen and Richard Westfall, Part 2 (scientific method: 109-45); part 6 (pp. 251-96)

(R) Margaret Jacob, Cultural Meaning of Scientific Revolution ch. 4 (pp. 107-38)

Hazard, Part III, ch. 1

Presentation: Newton's theology and alchemy (parts 7 and 8, pp. 297-371)


Week VIII (Nov 6): Deism

Reading: (C) Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds

*Geoffrey Sutton, Science for a Polite Society: gender, culture and the demonstration of Enlightenment, ch. 7 (pp. 241-61, 272-85)

Hazard, Part III, ch. 2, 6

Presentation: John Toland, Christianity not Mysterious


Week IX (Nov 13): political theory

Reading: (C) Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government

Hazard, Part III, ch. 3.

Presentation: Bossuet, "Politics derived from the Holy Scripture," in Keith Baker, The Old Regime (ed. Boyer) or excerpts from (R) Fénelon, Adventures of Telemachus




Week X (Nov 20): social thought

Reading: *Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners and Opinions in J. B. Schneewind, Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant, II, pp. 483-502.

Mary Astell, A Serious proposal to the ladies

Hazard, Part III, chs. 4-5, 7

Presentation: (R) Samuel Pufendorf, On the duty of man and citizen according to natural law




Week XI (Dec 4): "morals for moderns"

Reading: (C) Charles Perrault, Fairy tales

(C) Darnton in Great Cat Massacre

Hazard, Part IV, chs. 1-4.

Presentation: Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees


Week XII (Dec 11): Europe and the "other"

Reading: Montesquieu, Persian Letters

*Alan Kors, Atheism in France, ch. 5 ("other peoples"), pp. 135-75.

Presentation: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels


Week XIII (MONDAY Dec 15): conclusions

Final discussion and student presentations on their papers in progress