The Enlightenment and its Others

Subject 106-214 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually 12.5 points of first year English.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Prof John Frow


John Frow

Subject Overview:

This subject explores some of the tensions in the project of the European Enlightenment by examining a series of literary and other texts which articulate its dark side or the areas of life which are not amenable to enlightened reason: slavery, sexuality, sentimentality, madness, revolution, and war. Rather than thinking of the Enlightenment as primarily a philosophical project, it analyses its social embedding in the form of codes of polite conduct and an ideology of the sovereign subject. The texts studied in the subject call this ideology into question in one way or another: by overt subversion, by exposure of contradictions, by exploration of the non-rational, or by an excessive attachment to enlightened norms.

Objectives: acquire a broad knowledge of some of the major intellectual currents of the eighteenth century;
a sound grasp of the themes, the generic conventions, and the narrative techniques of the texts studied in the class;
be able to relate these texts to the broader historical and philosophical issues raised in the subject;
developed their ability to think critically about the role of literary texts in articulating social tensions.

A written essay of 1500 words 40% (due mid-semester); a written essay of 2500 words 60% (due at the end of the semester). A hurdle requirement of a 10-minute oral presentation in class by each student is required in order to pass this subject.

Note:Assessment submitted late without an approved formal extension will be penalised at 2% per day. Students who fail to submit up to 2-weeks after the final due date without a formal extension and/or special consideration will receive a fail grade for the piece of assessment.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader with additional texts by Kant, Addison and Steele, Mozart and Cook will be available.

  • Discourses on Method (Descartes)
  • Robinson Crusoe (Defoe), Norton
  • Sentimental Journey (Sterne), Penguin Classics
  • Rameau's Nephew (Diderot), Penguin Classics
  • Sorrows of Young Werther (Goethe), Penguin Classics
  • Justine (Sade), Grove Press
  • The Interesting Narrative (Equiano), Penguin Classics
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France (Burke), Penguin Classics
  • Mysteries of Udolpho (Radcliffe), Oxford World Classics
Recommended Texts:
  • Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Habermas)
  • The Order of Things (Foucault)
  • Slavery and Social Death (Patterson)
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • acquire skills in research, including the competent use of library, and other (including online) information sources, and the ability to define areas of inquiry and methods of research;

  • acquire skills in critical thinking and analysis, including the ability to question accepted wisdom, shape and strengthen persuasive judgments and arguments, and develop critical self-awareness;

  • acquire skills in theoretical thinking through a productive engagement with relevant methodologies and paradigms in literary studies and the broader humanities;

  • acquire skills in creative thinking through essay writing and tutorial discussion, through the innovative conceptualising of problems and an appreciation of the role of creativity in critical analysis;

  • develop social, ethical and cultural understanding;

  • develop intelligent and effective communication of knowledge and ideas:

  • develop skills in time management and planning related to the successful organisation of workloads, disciplined self-direction and the ability to meet deadlines.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology and Social Theory
English Literary Studies Major
European Studies
Social Theory

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