Assess how the Enlightenment in Europe and America changed the world's thinking about literature.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited down.  I think that one of the most significant elements about the impact of the Enlightenment in Europe and America was that it clearly demonstrated how ideas can change consciousness.  The theoretical implications of the ideas forged in European salons and society and practically applied in the Americas helped to bring forth the idea that words can have impact.  They are not merely "just words."  Rather, the Enlightenment how society can be changed and fundamentally transformed through the power of ideas and writings.  Few would debate the impact of this in Europe and America, with revolutions attributed to the Enlightenment ideals in both.  This is where the Enlightenment's impact was perceived both in the time period around the world and outside of it.  The call to envision what can be from what is represents where the greatest impact of the Enlightenment is evident.  Literature was not merely seen as something remaining in the context of pages and books.  Rather, it could be an organizing principle for society and social action.  The success of the Enlightenment in both Europe and the Americas demonstrates this on a wide scale to the world.