This course takes us from the period of the religious reformations of the sixteenth century through the first several decades of the nineteenth century. An important aim of the course will be to try to understand what we mean when we speak of the “modern” world. What is it that makes our world “modern”? How did it come about? We will trace the development of the notion of “modernity” as that term is broadly understood: in historical, social, economic, political, religious, philosophical, scientific, and literary terms. As is the case with all four of the Honors colloquia, we are guided in our reading by two overarching questions or themes: 1. What does it mean to be human, and what are the social, political, economic, and cultural consequences that flow from such an understanding? 2. What counts for knowledge?
This course is a colloquium, which means its purpose is to investigate through the discussion of ideas. Your professors will certainly do their part, but we also expect students to take responsibility for the course. That means – among other things – being actively engaged in class discussion. The best way to take this course is to come every day having done the assignment, with an open mind and lively curiosity, and with a readiness to engage, discuss, inquire, question, or think aloud.