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Global French Enlightenment

HNRS 2030 Sec. 064 - Spring 2022

Associate Professor Jeffrey Leichman Department of French Studies

M W 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
234A Prescott Hall

The Enlightenment reinvented the intellectual landscape of Europe, displacing the authority of sacred texts in favor of a modern epistemology based on empirical assessment of both culture and nature. Progressive eighteenth-century French authors demonstrated severe shortcomings of beliefs and practices that were increasingly seen to be at odds with the observable reality of the world, yet writers who challenged hallowed European beliefs did so at significant personal and professional risk. Executions and imprisonment for the crimes of blasphemy and lèse-majesté show the real-world stakes for daring to directly confront prevailing ideas and mores. We’ll look at how eighteenth-century literary and philosophical works frame the relationship between the foreign other and France, at the time the dominant culture in continental Europe. Readings include works by Montaigne, Montesquieu, Lahontan, and Graffigny.

Fulfills General Education:

English Composition