The Enlightenment

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A central tenet of Enlightenment thinkers was that humankind is innately good. Research the idea of the “noble savage” and see how it relates to Enlightenment thought. Prepare a well-organized essay explaining your findings, complete with examples from literature and/or history. Be sure to include any aspects of the “noble savage” that contradict the Enlightenment point of view.

Sturm und Drang and Romanticism are two literary movements that are viewed, in part, as reactions against the Enlightenment. Choose one of these movements and prepare a web page that summarizes it and the Enlightenment, compares and contrasts the two, and explains why scholars interpret your movement as a reaction against the Enlightenment.

During the latter part of the eighteenth century— when literature promoted and reflected Enlightenment ideas—Neoclassicism dominated the art world, and Romanticism followed in the early nineteenth century. Read about these art movements and examine their representative works. Consider the paintings of Jacques-Louis David (Neoclassicism) and see how they relate in style and/or subject to the work of Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix, whose Liberty Leading the People is among the most famous paintings to champion freedom.

Read Victor Hugo’s classic story of the French Revolution, Les Misérables, or watch a stage or screen adaptation of the novel. Select one of the main characters and compose a character sketch explaining how the Enlightenment did or did not affect the character’s personality, emotional presence, and decision-making.

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