Comparative Literature | The 18th Century
C529 | 1144 | Kenshur, O

TOPIC:  The Modern Self

Section meets with C329 and L680
Class Meets:  TR  1:15-12:30   BH 016

The course will provide a general introduction to eighteenth-century
literature and thought while focusing on a development that has
become the object of keen interest in recent years, namely, the
emergence of the concept of the self. Since concepts of self are
necessarily intertwined with ideas about the relationship between
self and other, between the political subject and political
authority, and between the individual and God, the course will
inevitably touch on psychology, epistemology, ethics, political
theory, and religious thought. Since our texts will include works
from a variety of literary and philosophical genres, and since a
knowledge of earlier developments will be necessary for an
understanding of why explorations of the nature of the self form a
central concern throughout the eighteenth century, the course will
be amount to a high-level introduction to early-modern literature
and thought. It will also provide an indispensable background for
those interested in nineteenth and twentieth-century debates about

There will be a short paper due mid-semester, and a long paper due
at the end of the semester.
Tentative reading list:
Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations
Locke, Second Treatise on Government
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Shaftesbury, Essay Concerning Virtue, or Merit
Mandeville, Fable of the Bees
Pope, Essay on Man
Hutcheson, Two Enquiries (selections) and other writing on ethics
and aesthetics
Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste” and other essays
Sterne, Sentimental Journey
Rousseau, First Discourse and Confessions
Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew
Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther