RCHUMS 344 - Reason and Passion in the 18th Century Europe
Section: 001
Term: WN 2019
Subject: RC Humanities (RCHUMS)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course examines and compares significant works of visual art, literature and philosophy produced in Europe during the eighteenth century. In the midst of radical changes in political institutions and social life, works of creative imagination such as paintings, novels and speculative essays helped to define and re-define the nature of “human nature.” Although sometimes called an age of reason, this was equally an age of feeling and belief, and rational approaches to the improvement of human life went hand in hand with confidence in the truth of the emotions. An experimental attitude charges much of the religious, political and philosophical writing of the period, and “thought experiments” of various kinds were carried out in the subject matter and technical innovations of engravings, paintings and architectural designs. As we shall see, the idea that individual liberty should not be constrained by established doctrine is a major feature of intellectual and artistic discourse in this period, and one that was closely associated with the idea that human beings are fundamentally creatures of nature, subject to the laws of physics and driven by passions and appetites. Readings include philosophical tracts, novels, poetry, and art criticism by Winckelmann, Diderot and others. We will study paintings by Boucher, Fragonard, Greuze, Chardin, Joseph Wright, Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun and Angelica Kauffman, among others.

4. Modern and Contemporary

  • Descartes, René, Discourse on Method and Related Writings, trans. Desmond M. Clark, Penguin Books, 1999.
  • Defoe, Daniel, Robinson Crusoe, ed. John Richetti, Penguin Books, 2001.
  • Pope, Alexander, Essay on Man and Other Poems, Dover Publications, 1994.
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, A Discourse on Inequality, trans. Maurice Cranston, Penguin Books, 1984.
  • Voltaire, Candide and Other Stories, trans. Roger Pearson, Oxford University Press, 1998..
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, The Sorrows of Young Werther, trans. Michael Hulse, Penguin Books, 1989.
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, revised ed., Penguin Books, 2004.
  • Shelley, Mary, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, Penguin Books, 1992.
  • Outram, Dorinda, The Enlightenment, 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Course Requirements:

2 short papers; 2 slide-essay exams; 1 term paper (10 to 15 pages)

Intended Audience:

upper-level undergraduates

Class Format:

seminar, meets 1 ½ hours twice per week

RCHUMS 344 - Reason and Passion in the 18th Century Europe
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
5RC Ugrd
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Additional readings will be posted on Canvas
ISBN: 9780140446999
Discourse on method and related writings, Author: Descartes, Rene?., Publisher: Penguin 2003
ISBN: 9780141439822
Robinson Crusoe, Author: Defoe, Daniel 1661-1731, Publisher: Penguin 2003
ISBN: 9780486280530
Essay on man and other poems, Author: Pope, Alexander, (1688-1744),, Publisher: Dover 1994
ISBN: 9780140444391
A discourse on inequality, Author: Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 1712-1778., Publisher: Penguin Books 2003
ISBN: 9780192834263
Candide and Other Stories / Oxford World's Classics., Author: Voltaire, 1694-1778., Publisher: Oxford University Press 1998
ISBN: 9780141921297
The sorrows of young Werther, Author: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 1749-1832., Publisher: Penguin Books 2006
ISBN: 9780143105039
Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus, Author: Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851., Publisher: Penguin 2003
ISBN: 9781139612685
The Enlightenment, Author: Outram, Dorinda., Publisher: Cambridge University Press 2012
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