History 367(101) Europe in Enlightenment




Course Level





Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was in many ways the crucible of the modern world.  The secularization of society, the separation of church and state, representative democratic government, and science and technology’s impact on daily life can all be traced back to this time and place.  By taking this course, students will therefore be better able to understand and appreciate the world of the twenty-first century, its problems, and the possible solutions to those problems.

We will study the key events, individuals, and ideas in European history from the middle of the seventeenth century to the eve of the French Revolution.  We will pay particular attention to certain important developments, such as the rise of royal “absolutism” (we will also question the term’s validity and utility); the birth of an international system based on the balance of power; the theory and practice of mercantilism and the rise of the laissez-faire economy; the intellectual revolution that is known as the Enlightenment; the phenomenon of “enlightened absolutism”; and the origins of the French Revolution.  We will also study the darker side of this supposedly enlightened era by studying its outcasts, deviants, and criminals.