The Individual in Society, 1860

History 103B.002

Spring 2006
Instructor (text): 
332 Giannini
Day & Time: 
W 4-6

For European litterateurs, novelists, philosophers, historians, and political theorists of the nineteenth century, there may have been no question more pressing than that of the individual in society. How much scope must society give each person to realize his or her full potential, and what, if anything, did the individual owe society in exchange? Were individuals in fact free to shape their own destiny, or was their fate determined by the society, or "civilization" they belonged to? In 1860, these questions were as hot as ever, and found expression in signature works by liberals, nationalists, and those who wavered between them: Dickens' Great Expectations, Dostoevsky's Notes from the House of the Dead, Jacob Burkhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Mazzini's The Duty of Man and J. S. Mill's Considerations on Representative Government. The texts for this course are drawn from across Europe. One of its challenges will be to identify the ways in which writers picked up the same issues across national lines (consciously or unconsciously).

This course is aimed at students with an interest in intellectual history and its intersections with cultural and social history. Requirements of the course include attendance and active participation. Each student will make two oral presentations and will submit short written responses to each of the readings, roughly 1-2 pages each week.