Comp Lit 258: Enlightenment and Critique

Instructor: Professor Vicky Kahn

Enlightenment notions of reason and critique have been at the center of contemporary theoretical debate about secularization, aesthetics, and democratic politics. In this course, we will trace these debates to some of the canonical texts of the European Enlightenment, focusing on the dialectic between Enlightenment reason and its others: madness, materialism, and religious enthusiasm. In addition, we will consider the relationship between Enlightenment and cosmopolitanism, as well as Enlightenment debates about gender, colonialism, and race. Beginning with Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?,” we will then turn to readings in Kant, Schiller, Mendelssohn, Rousseau, Diderot, D’Alembert, Gouge, Wollstonecraft, and Hegel. Modern readings in Foucault, Adorno, Horkheimer, Koselleck, Arendt, Rancière, and Scarry. Reading knowledge of French and/or German is useful but not required.

  • Elective Requirement: This course fulfills the Intellectual History or an elective requirement for the DE in REMS.