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Title:Radical enlightenment in German literature 1771-1811
Author(s):Chambers, Adam
Director of Research:Niekerk, Carl
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Niekerk, Carl
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Johnson, Laurie R.; Hilger, Stephanie M.; Pinkert, Anke; Rosenstock, Bruce
Department / Program:Germanic Languages & Lit
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):German Literature
Jonathan Israel
Intellectual History
History of Philosophy
Radical Enlightenment
Moderate Enlightenment
German Enlightenment
Die Leiden des jungen Werthers
Nathan der Weise
Die Räuber
Die Verlobung in St. Domingo
Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim
Enlightenment Contested
Democratic Enlightenment
A Revolution of the Mind
Abstract:The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social movement that had a profound impact on the development of Western society, yet its complexity and impact on literature are not often fully understood. The values of freedom, equality, and brotherhood as well as the rise of the roles of reason, science, and tolerance are products of the European Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment has become a villain blamed for abuses against many of those same principles by many scholars. It is therefore important to understand what the Enlightenment was, and what its true legacy is. This study makes use of recent research on the Radical Enlightenment by Princeton historian Jonathan Israel and others to investigate if German literature of the late Enlightenment supports the idea that the Enlightenment is better understood as having a Radical and a Moderate side. The following works of German literature serve as primary historical evidence in considering Jonathan Israel’s Radical Enlightenment hypothesis: Lessing’s Nathan der Weise, Schiller’s Die Räuber, Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, La Roche’s Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim, and Kleist’s Die Verlobung in St. Domingo. Each work is examined for an exchange of Radical and Moderate Enlightenment ideas regarding specific philosophical issues discussed in each work such as religion, politics, nature, aristocratic privilege, and race, among other topics. This study discusses the recent hypothesis of a prominent intellectual historian, as well as scholars from other fields, while also investigating closely the discussion of important philosophical issues in German literature of a time that brought Western society many of the values it still holds today.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Adam Chambers
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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