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Britain in the Enlightenment Era

An Image of the painting: An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby
An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768 Joseph Wright of Derby - National Gallery, London

The European Enlightenment was an era of radical intellectual and social change, setting many of the patterns of modernity. This course will examine the contribution of Britain to this watershed period. Running from the era of John Locke in the late 17th century to that of Burke, Paine, and Wollstonecraft in the late 18th century, the course will chart the intellectual, social, and cultural developments that shaped Britain as it emerged as a global power. Topics will include: consumerism and capitalism; empire, freedom, and slavery; religion and secularism; crime and disorder. 
During weekly seminars we will discuss primary source readings. In contextualizing ‘canonical’ works in the political, social, and cultural contexts of eighteenth-century Britain, we will interrogate their contribution to western modernity. Evaluations will consist of a combination of participation and contribution to in-class activities and discussions, quizzes, and written assignments.  

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.