Skip to main content

Fictions of Enlightenment (Level 5)


There are no classes currently available for registration.


Our short course Fictions of Enlightenment brings together a selection of literary and philosophical texts by the best-known French Enlightenment thinkers, in a range of different genres (the conte, the essay, the theatre). We will examine the fictional portrayal of the passage from ignorance to knowledge - through various types of journey of discovery and stories of human development (whether of an individual or the species), and fictional experiments. These provide us with a range of perspectives on what ‘enlightenment’ might mean, dramatising the limits of human knowledge and understanding, and exploring a range of key philosophical issues and debates along the way. These include, for example, the origins of social inequality, the nature of power relations between the sexes and between masters and servants, and the question of whether human beings have free will.

We plan to cover the following content:

  • Voltaire, Candide (1759)
  • Marivaux, La Dispute (1744)
  • Rousseau, Discours sur les sciences et les arts (1750)
  • Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes (1755)
  • Sedaine, Le Philosophe sans le savoir (1765)

Assessment is via a 1500-word essay (60%) and a one-hour 20-minute in-class test (40%).

15 credits at level 5

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students.

    This short course has no prerequisites.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then register onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.