Image by Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, 1797-1798. (Photo by Rick Stafford, courtesy of the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Gift of Philip Hofer, © President and Fellows of Harvard College, Licensed to MIT by Harvard University Art Museums through 12/31/2008.)
This course features an in-class exercise on the trial of Louis XVI in the assignments
Has there ever been an "Age of Reason?" In the western tradition, one might make claims for various moments during Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. In this class, however, we will focus on the two and a half centuries between 1600 and 1850, a period when insights first developed in the natural sciences and mathematics were seized upon by social theorists, institutional reformers and political revolutionaries who sought to change themselves and the society in which they lived. Through the study of trials, art, literature, theater, music, politics, and culture more generally, we will consider evolution and revolution in these two and a half centuries. We will also attend to those who opposed change on both traditional and radical grounds.
*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.