ME33BM: Birth of Modernity : Politics, Culture and Science in Europe, 1700 - 1870
This course introduces students to the crucible of the modern age. Hinging on the French and 1848 Revolutions, it explores how men and women in elite and popular communities generated new modes of living, experience and expression and how they understood and manipulated the natural world. Attention will be given to the Enlightenment, Revolution, Empire, Romanticism and Ideology with interrelated developments in politics, culture and science also being explored. Students will be introduced to the works of figures such as Newton, Kant, Hume, Herder, Marx, Darwin and Nietzsche.
The forging of, and resistance to, new ideas concerning the individual, gender, society, the state and the natural world generated a wide-ranging and vigorous debate, which held at its heart a vital sense of the actors as either self-consciously modern or reactionary. At the core of the course will therefore be a study of the notion of revolutionary change, both in its specifically political and its broader cultural meanings. Thus, the ways in which revolutions were generated across the period, and the impact they held for the populace which created and experienced them will be the central focus of each phase of the course.
Lectures will highlight emblematic figures in each phase, and themes which link the different phases together. Particular attention will be given to the social context which generated and shaped actors, examining for instance, the rise of a reading public, the professionalisation of cultural activity, and the fragmentation of an ideal of universal knowledge.
Course Coordinator: Dr Elizabeth MacKnight email@example.com