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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

Class 1: What is the Enlightenment?

    Class Objectives:

      Readings on Civilization - Key Words (available in Course Documents on Blackboard)
      Review assignments

    In-class Reading Assignment:

    Raymond Williams, "Civilization," in Keywords (1976, 1983); and Anna Tsing and Gail Hershatter, "Civilization," in New Keywords eds. Bennett, Grossberg and Morris (2005).

    If time, Richard Steele, Spectator No. 2, from Commerce of Everyday Life, ed. Erin Mackie (1998).

    Notes and Discussion Questions:


    In-class writing (5 min.): What is (the) Enlightenment?

    Share answers with a neighbor. After five minutes, we will go around the class and introduce ourselves and share ideas on what (the) Enlightenment is.

    Sherry Linkon's "The Reader's Apprentice"

    As soon as you are able, read the assigned article by Sherry Linkon, available in Course Documents on Blackboard or via the library's access to Project Muse or JSTOR. We will be applying several of her key pedagogical ideas in this class:

  • Critical cultural reading
  • Teaching interpretation
  • Becoming expert readers (p. 251)
  • Six practices that constitute slow and recursive cultural reading: 1) inquiry, 2) considering multiple positions, 3) self-awareness, 4) examining cultural context, 5) revisiting the text and one's ideas, 6) making connections
  • Analysis of texts relies upon thorough and complex understanding of culture and history
  • Reading and rereading allows the expert reader to gain new insights
  • Readings can be complex, ambiguous and even contradictory at times

    Discussion Excercise: Civilization

    Divide the class into two groups. One group will read the Williams' article and one group will read the Tsing/Hershatter article. The class will have a fifteen-minute break to read. When we reconvene, we will ask groups to discuss the main points/descriptors of "Civilization."

    Part one -- 15 minutes
    Have a spokesperson or two for each group summarize the definition of "Civilization" offered in the essay to the other group. Be as clear and concise as possible. Accept additions and corrections from other members of the group.

    Part two -- 30 minutes
    Addressing both essays, answer the questions:

  • How are these keywords' definitions different?
  • Why?
  • What does Civilization have to do with Enlightenment and vice versa?
  • What does civilization have to do with violence?
  • What does civilization have to do with beauty?
  • What relevance does this have for our society / or us today?

    If time, hand out essay by Steele from The Spectator Discuss:

  • What is happening in this essay?
  • Who might be the audience?
  • What does the reader learn from the essay?
  • What role might this paper (three times a week) have in forming a public sphere?

    For next week:

    Reading in Jacob (see syllabus link). Start reading Clarissa; read Steele's play, Conscious Lovers. See 1723 version from the Eighteenth Century Collection Online, available in the USF Library online databases. Your first weekly post to the discussion board on Blackboard is also due by Sunday midnight.

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