AU: 4.0
Programme: ELH(HSS)

We will be examining the representation of women during the Restoration and eighteenth century (1660-1800), roughly the span of the Enlightenment in England. With the scientific discoveries of Isaac Newton and others in the late seventeenth century, Western civilization experienced an epistemological shift from an adherence to traditional structures of authority (church, crown, patriarchal family) to the age of empiricism and a privileging of reason, evidence, and experientially acquired knowledge espoused by such philosophers as John Locke. This crisis of authority (reason versus revelation, evidence versus faith), exacerbated by the political upheavals and constitutional debates in the wake of England's Civil Wars and the Glorious Revolution, sent shock waves through all levels of society, including the domestic. How did women-having few political rights, little financial independence, and existing as legal nonentities when married-respond to this new age of discovery? The title of the course is meant to indicate the binary opposition of "good" and "bad" women with which real, complex women had to work in order to survive in society. The course itself will problematize that opposition in an effort to understand how women in an uncertain but exciting age could form and articulate their voices-as images of God, as rational beings, as rejects and misfits, as companions, wives, mothers, and citizens-in an effort to contribute to the public and private spheres and establish their own dignity as members of society.