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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2017-18

MALS MALS 368 Seeing and Feeling in Early Modern Europe

Early modern philosophical regimes of knowledge in Europe tend to revolve around two major senses: that of sight, and that of touch. For seventeenth-century French philosopher, René Descartes, for example, perception relies on the ability of the human eye to serve as a direct link between the exterior world and the interior subject (the soul). The desire to understand the ways in which the body perceives the senses and translates them into a basis for memory and knowledge is evident in the art, philosophy, and literature of the day. In this course, we will analyze works of art, literature, and philosophy from the 16th-18th centuries in England, France, Italy, and Germany, asking how aesthetic and materialist theories that emerge and take hold in the early modern period still shape modern understandings of the human and its relation to the world.

Exploring aesthetic reactions and writings on art and literature, we will investigate the idea of sensibility, perception and the senses, visual knowledge, and modes of feeling and knowing through sight and touch. Readings include selections from Diderot, Rousseau, Burke, Hogarth, Alberti, Leonardo, Vasari, Lessing, Jane Austen, Baudelaire, among others.


Kristin O'Rourke