History | Colloquium in Cultural History
H680 | 3029 | Knott


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section meets with HIST H615, H630, H650 and GNDR G602

TOPIC:  WOMEN, GENDER AND ENLIGHTENMENT

Eighteenth-century 'Enlightenment' sought to banish superstition,
advance science, and apply reason, all to the ends of human
progress.  Until recently, this triumphant story found little place
for women or gender: the Enlighteners were educated European men
applying universal and admirably modern ideals. The work of women's,
gender and feminist scholars has radically challenged and changed
this picture of the past. Why and how? We will examine the role of
French, British and American women in Enlightenment, and the place of
gender in the development of enlightened thought and culture. The
course is organized around a series of themes,
which will include: the enlightenment institution of the salon;
enlightenment histories and narratives of progress; changing meanings
of sex, race and science; the woman reader and the woman author;
republican motherhood, feminism and the rights of woman during the
American and French Revolutions. By the end of the course,
participants will have a deeper familiarity with key eighteenth-
century texts, and a thorough knowledge of a dynamic new field that
has a feminist-inflected cultural history, and literary studies - not
intellectual history - at its core.

This course has been inspired by an ongoing project involving
over a hundred historians, literary critics, political scientists and
philosophers from the U.S., Europe and beyond. Groups of these
researchers meet at colloquia twice a year, and a seminar series runs
in London. From 1998-2001, I was research fellow on the project, and
am now in the process of commissioning essays for publication with
the project director, Barbara Taylor. The course will partly draw on
the papers and discussions of the ongoing 'Gender and Enlightenment
Research Network' through its new website:
. The website is accessible only by
password, and is open exclusively to research associates of the
Network and to graduate students enrolled in the class. This access
to a large international research project enables the aims of the
course to reach beyond the purely intellectual. I hope you will gain
insights into one of the happier elements of academic life -
collaborative work- that seldom surfaces in graduate school training.

Participants may treat this course as either a seminar or a
colloquium. That is, while lively and active engagement with the
weekly readings is required of all students, you may chose between a
short research paper or a more historiographic paper (~ 15 succinct
and well-argued pages), due at the end of the semester.

Note: Deidre Lynch (English department) is running a parallel
course, 'The Enlightenment Legacies of Feminist Theory' (L673). The
two classes can be treated as complementary for those interested in
taking both. At times, we will be coordinating the two classes, and
hope to have one or more external speakers as visitors.