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21L.470 Eighteenth-Century Literature: Versions of the Self in 18th-C Britain | Literature

21L.470 Eighteenth-Century Literature: Versions of the Self in 18th-C Britain | Literature

When John Locke declared (in the 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding) that knowledge was derived solely from experience, he raised the possibility that human understanding and identity were not the products of God's will or of immutable laws of nature so much as of one's personal history and background. If on the one hand Locke's theory led some to pronounce that individuals could determine the course of their own lives, however, the idea that we are the products of our experience just as readily supported the conviction that we are nothing more than machines acting out lives whose destinies we do not control. This course will track the formulation of that problem, and a variety of responses to it, in the literature of the "long eighteenth century." Readings will range widely across... Show More
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