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English 9097A
Eighteenth-Century Philosophy and Literature

Professor Mary Helen McMurran
Fall Half Course.

This course will explore the relationships between the intellectual drives of the British eighteenth century and works of literature. Rather than using the ideas associated with empiricism to interpret literary narrative, we will ask how writers engaged in a mutual elaboration of concepts that newly described internal and external experience in the era of the “new science.” Focusing on such fundamental ideas as identity, consciousness, cause, substance, and spirit, we will explore central figures in the history of philosophy and three major English literary authors, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe and Laurence Sterne, as well as the popular but lesser known fictional work of Ibn Tufayl.

Readings will include:
Locke, from the Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Hume, from Treatise on Human Nature and Dialogues on Natural Religion
English Deists: excerpts from John Toland, Herbert of Cherbury
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, and selections from the Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Pope, “Essay on Man,” “Windsor Forest”
Ibn Tufayl, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān [Alive, Son of Awake]
Sterne, Tristram Shandy

View the course syllabus here: English 9097A.


Department of English - The University of Western Ontario
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