The neoclassical period the age of enlightenment

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The neoclassical period the age of enlightenment

  1. 1. The Neoclassical Period<br />The Age of Enlightenment<br />(aka the Age of Reason)<br />1688 - 1798<br />
  2. 2. Background Info I<br />The Enlightenment was a movement of intellectuals that began in eighteenth century Europe, and with all the religious upheaval of the times had its primary goal as using reason to reform science and advance knowledge. <br />It opposed abusive, intolerant practices that took place in the church and state. Its centre was in France, and was set in motion by philosophers such as Isaac Newton, Pierre Bayle and John Locke. The political ideals behind it had an impact on the formation of the American declaration of Independence. <br />It was where came the birth of democratic values of freedom and reason over monarchy’s divine right; this would later lead to capitalism and religious tolerance.<br />Science and natural philosophy would replace religion as a way of understanding nature, with the majority of people now becoming committed to secular views.<br />
  3. 3. Background Info II<br />Public Sphere: an area where individuals can come together to freely discuss social problems, and through that discussion influence political action.<br />Habernas: ‘bourgeois public sphere’: everyone is equal, concerns that are common are discussed, and arguments are founded on reason. <br />Reason is valued over all, everything is open to criticism, and there is no secrecy; all areas of politics should be open to the public.<br />The most common place to find a public sphere tended to be coffee houses and cafes. Educated men would spend evenings here with their literary and political associates . They offered journals, books and sometimes popular novels to customers e.g. The Tatler. <br />The first English coffeehouse was in Oxford. Cowan: ‘the coffeehouse was a place for like-minded scholars to congregate, to read, as well as learn from and to debate with each other, but was emphatically not a university institution, and the discourse there was of a far different order than any university tutorial’.<br />
  4. 4. Historical Context <br />Printed material was much more available to the general public: books fell in prices and became affordable, and were often sold at fairs. The amount of newspapers increased and periodicals became popular, as well as essay writing.<br />The newest releases of scholars books had indexes and digests to summarize and popularize them to a wider audience. The public was more educated than ever before as knowledge had become so widespread and easily accessible, no longer confined to the upper classes. 50 % of males were functionally literate, a dramatic rise.<br />Written sermons, religious controversy dissertations and prophecies were going around. Anyone could be a published author.<br />Fenced enclosure of land overturned the traditional village way of life, ruined farming and many of the rural class faced poverty and were forced to emigrate. Many young people moved to London for work, increasing the capital’s population hugely – and consequently cheap labour for employers. Factories began to spring up as the industrial revolution began. The increased population also meant more beggars, criminals and prostitutes and so crime levels, starvation and rape also rose.<br />London had many riots during this time.<br />Gin became popular after the government allowed its unlicensed production, and banned any imported spirits and became popular with the poor for its cheap price – and was blamed for many of the social problems, causing an ‘epidemic of drunkenness’. <br />
  5. 5. Content<br />Literature was characterised by a highly increased questioning of religion, a rise in empiricism and reductionism. <br />Content was often explicitly political, with satire being the most popular genre.<br />It explored themes of social upheaval, reversals of personal status, political satire, and the ‘comparison between the supposed natural state of man and the supposed civilised state of man’.<br />There was an emphasis on reason and logic, harmony, stability, wisdom; philosophy was dominant, as was economics, social ethics, trade and morality.<br />Locke: a social contract exists between the government and the people. The government governs guaranteeing ‘natural rights’ of life, liberty, and property. <br />Emphasis on the individual, belief that humanity is basically evil, approach to life: ‘the world as it should be’.<br />
  6. 6. Style/Genres<br />Satire<br />Poetry<br />Essays<br />Letters, diaries, biographies<br />Novels<br />
  7. 7. Example Excerpts from Key Authors<br />Key Authors: Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, John Bunyan, John Milton<br />1729 - Jonathan Swift: A Modest Proposal, a satirical essay suggesting that the Irish should sell their children as food. The essay mocks callous attitudes towards the poor and British policy in Ireland, and was written during his political campaigning for the Irish. It is seen as one of the best sustained examples of irony throughout the entire history of the English language.<br />Full Title: A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden on Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. Read Essay Here<br />‘It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. <br />I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.<br />I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust. ‘<br /> ↓Readexcerpt below ↓<br />
  8. 8. Micromégas excerpt<br />1752 - Voltaire: Micromégas, a satirical short story on space travellers visiting the earth. One of the first science fiction novels, showing the leaning towards the more scientific thinking of the age. This technique of using an outsider, an onlooker to make social commentary on western culture was popular and used again by many others. Read Full Story Here ↓ Read Excerpt Below<br />‘On hearing these words, all the philosophers shook their heads, and one, more frank than the others, candidly confessed that, with the exception of a small number held in mean estimation among them, all the rest of mankind were a multitude of fools, knaves, and miserable wretches.<br />"We have more matter than we need," said he, "the cause of much evil, if evil proceeds from matter; and we have too much mind, if evil proceeds from mind. For instance, at this very moment there are 100,000 fools of our species who wear hats, slaying 100,000 fellow creatures who wear turbans, or being massacred by them, and over almost all of Earth such practices have been going on from time immemorial."<br />The Sirian shuddered, and asked what could cause such horrible quarrels between those miserable little creatures.’<br />

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