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Harvard Colloquium for Intellectual History

Peculiarities of the English Enlightenment


February 25, 2019
5:15pm - 7:00pm
Basement Seminar Room, Robinson Hall
February 25, 2019
5:15pm - 7:00pm
Basement Seminar Room, Robinson Hall

** Event Location: Please note that this event is not held at CES. Consult the event details above for the correct location. **

About

This paper explores a puzzling but under-explored theme in eighteenth-century history: the apparent absence of an English Enlightenment in a century marked elsewhere by Anglophilia and a recognition that England was a primary beacon of modernity. It frames the question not only in terms of the historiography of the Enlightenment, but also with reference to debates about English exceptionalism. In addition, it asks basic questions about method, and provides a tentative sketch of an answer and an account of how cultural battle-lines were drawn in England. Nevertheless, the paper also questions whether the Enlightenment in general tends to be construed in ways that exaggerate the extent to which English culture was an outlier. Connoisseurs of Brexit might note that it touches upon certain historical aspects of England’s relationship with Europe.

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