The Enlightenment Literary Period


This presentation is on the Enlightenment Period or the Neoclassical period from 1660 to 1790 Introduction to the Enlightenment Period The Enlightenment Period was a period marked by the promotion of logic and learning by sensory experience, as well as a dislike of superstition. Deism was popular during this period, as it rejected organized religion and believed that through observation of the natural world, humans can discover the true creator of the universe. Historical Background: The Restoration, American, and French Revolution occurred during the Enlightenment Period. Thus, the period fostered a lot of Revolutionary activity including a backlash to Puritan rule in England and America rising against England. Many Enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Dickinson, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin influenced the revolution by questioning authority and promoting reason. Some Enlightenment Characteristics Include a focus on reason, questioning religious authority, scientific discovery, liberty, progressivism, government by Constitution, End of abuses by Church and State, Egalitarianism, and tolerance Along with the cultural influences of the time period, Neoclassicism focused on imitating classical models from ancient authors. The first work that exemplifies this period is Encyclopédie edited by Denis Diderot Encyclopédie was a general encyclopedia published in France Contributors strove to change the way people thought by presenting the world’s knowledge, hoping to influence future generations. There were 28 volumes Encyclopédie supported secularization of learning specifically away from the Jesuits (away from organized religion) Promoting scientific discovery by observation, reason, and movement away from organized religion. Diderot challenges readers to learn things for themselves.
This is a key representation of Enlightenment literature A second work that represents the Enlightenment period was Letters on the English by Voltaire Letters on the English was A series of letters explaining Voltaire’s experience in England It imitates Virgil and Horace’s work Letters on the English is interpreted as criticizing the French form of government Voltaire gives a positive portrayal of England and a negative representation of France. With regard to religion, Voltaire appreciates the Quaker’s lack of baptism and priests, and presents his skepticism for organized religion. Voltaire also attacks Catholics for their quest for dominance and Presbyterians for being intolerant. In terms of politics, Voltaire criticizes Britain for going to war on account of religion but acknowledges it for promoting liberty Voltaire questions religious authority and governments, advocates tolerance and liberty, and highlights logical thinking Ultimately The Enlightenment Period promoted logic, scientific discovery, liberty, tolerance, disdain for organized religion, and questioning of authority.
Both Diderot and Voltaire advocate these ideas in their works, Encyclopédie and Letters on the English

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