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HUM2210, Chapter 16 - 16 THE AGE OF REASON 17001789...

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16 THE AGE OF REASON 1700–1789 TEACHING STRATEGIES AND SUGGESTIONS The instructor can begin the Age of Reason with a Historical Overview that describes the West in 1700, treating such matters as the politics (kingship, absolutist or limited), economics (mercantilism), society (aristocratic and hierarchical), religion (state churches and legalized intolerance), education (piecemeal, random, and elitist), and culture (Baroque and soon to be Rococo). This summary will enable students to better understand the program of the Physiocrats and particularly the   philosophes   who wanted radical changes in Western society and culture. The instructor can next introduce the Enlightenment, using a Spirit of the Age approach that sets forth this cultural movement’s goals and guiding ideals, including scientific   methodology,   mathematical   reasoning,   and   healthy   skepticism.   The   instructor,   using   the Patterns of Change approach, can briefly describe the influences that helped to shape the Enlightenment mentality,   specifically   the   Scientific   Revolution,   Greco-Roman   Classicism,   and   the   Renaissance.   A handout   listing   key   figures   by   country   and   the   major   contribution   of   each   is   a   good   device   for demonstrating to students that the Enlightenment was truly an international movement as well as for familiarizing them with the leading  philosophes  and their achievements. The instructor can use a Standard Lecture to establish the Enlightenment’s historical setting, focusing briefly on major historical events affecting the great powers (England, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia)  and  to  a lesser  extent the almost-great  powers (the  Netherlands,  Portugal,  and Spain) and showing especially the differences between England with its limited monarchy and growing middle class and France with its absolute monarchy and its resurgent aristocracy. This information is vital for students because these events were determining factors in the rise of the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. With the Reflections/Connections approach, the instructor can then show how the Rococo reflected the French and, to a lesser extent, the Austrian aristocracy and how, in England, it led to a backlash by Hogarth, who ridiculed the excesses of this style in his satiric paintings. Similarly, it can be shown how the Neoclassical style was in part a response to the   philosophes’   criticism of eighteenth-century politics and culture and how, after appearing in about 1770, this style was quickly adopted by progressive spirits across the West.
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