You will examine the way in which the modern notion of identity, be it the nature of human subjectivity, gender or ethnic identity, were all shaped by intellectual, social, scientific and aesthetic processes and movements from the Enlightenment onwards.
Moved by the concept of reason, the Enlightenment placed a great deal of faith in its own ideal of the individual’s intellectual and social freedom and its inherent moral integrity. Yet feminist and post colonial theories of culture have shown how these benefits were very often not extended to the ‘other’, ultimately excluded groups of women or non-whites, non-Christians and non-Europeans.
You will examine a range of German language texts by men and women. The culture of the period can be used to illustrate ways in which these aspects of human identity were given at times progressive and at times limiting, conservative treatments throughout the period from 1750 to 1830. Both these stereotypes of self, gender and ‘race’ and the creative challenges put to them by writers remain with us today and enrich us by deepening our understanding of the historical processes that led to how we understand ourselves and our others and help inform our insights into these issues in the present and for the future.
Either one 4,000 - 4,500 word essay or a 3-hour examination.