Comparative Literature | Fanaticism, Toleration, and Modernity
C647 | 1294 | Kenshur, O

Meets:  TR    11:15-12:30     BH 236

The course will examine the development of modern ideas about
fanaticism and religious toleration in the context of seventeenth-
and eighteenth-century reactions to sectarian strife, religious
persecution, and political revolution. The texts to be studied will
range from philosophical treatises, to a variety of historical,
literary, and polemical genres. We will be interested in ways in
which writers defined fanaticism in relation to official religions,
governmental authority, cultural traditions, as well as in relation
to ideas about responsible intellectual method. Where toleration is
set forth as an antidote to fanaticism, we will be interested to see
whether the argument for toleration is based on a moral imperative
not to coerce beliefs, or on a positive respect for diverse beliefs,
or on the political imperative to subordinate religion to the
authority of the state. Throughout, we will be sensitive to the
interplay between the logical and rhetorical dimensions of our
texts, and the way this interplay serves to heighten literary
effects, promote ideological ends, or resolve tensions between
competing commitments.

There will be a short preliminary paper, and a 15-25 page term paper.

Preliminary Reading List:

Hobbes, Leviathan
Dryden, Religio Laici
Bayle, Philosophical Commentary
Locke, Epistola de Tolerantia
Montesquieu, Persian Letters
Voltaire, Treatise on Toleration
Hume, Natural History of Religion, Selected Essays
Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Lessing, Nathan the Wise
Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France