The Situation: You are a TV talk show host! Imagine that three of the writers/artists/thinkers we’ve discussed in Module 1 have been transported into the 21st century and got booked onto your show as a panel discussion to talk about the legacy of the Enlightenment in the 21st century. Today your program is hosting a panel of at least three of the writers or thinkers or artists we’ve discussed in Unit 1 of Humanities 105 (this is the unit that covers weeks 1-3 of our course). Your panel must include either Mary Wollstonecraft or Olympe de Gouges, and two other authors/thinkers of your choice (Descartes, Kant, Diderot, L’Ouverture, and/or any of the artists you’ve learned about). You can also include additional participants if you wish. Your purpose in the show script is to have these three thinkers share their thoughts on 1) how they see the legacy of the Enlightenment and its successes and failures in the 21st century and 2) how they feel their specifc projects and ideas are still at work today. In doing this you will be able to show your instructor that you’re beginning to see how different figures we’ve discussed from the 18th century still play a role in our current debates–especially when it comes to thinking about struggles for truth, independence, and equality! You should also, as moderator, connect the conversation to your own personal experience in the 21st century at at least three points in the conversation. Here’s a way you might do that: “De Gouges points out women are not treated as equals to men, and I see that in my own house. As a female, I’m expected to help out with my younger siblings, which really cuts into my studying time, but my older brother isn’t expected to do any of that!” What does the “legacy of the Enlightenment” mean? It’s hard for us to understand because the idea of the individual search for truth and knowledge and for a society built on truth and knowledge and ideas like fairness and liberty are so second nature to us, but those ideas were born during the Enlightenment. So when you think about the legacy of the Enlightenment, you might think about “How is our society doing with supporting the search for truth, knowledge and equality?” “Have we had any successes?” “Have we had any setbacks?” If dropped into our current world, what would be exciting for these Enlightenment thinkers? What would be worrisome? What would Diderot think of Wikipedia? Would he think it was all good or would he see some potential problems? What might de Gouges think about the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment never got adopted? What might L’Ouverture have to say about George Floyd? What do you mean about these thinkers’ “specific projects?” Diderot’s specific project was the first encyclopedia. How might he feel about the new ways of sharing knowledge now? Kant believed in the public and private uses of reason. How would those 2 uses be facilitated or hindered by advances like the internet? Wollstonecraft thought inherited wealth made equality impossible? What kind of economic system might she support now? The Purpose: There are two purposes in this assignment 1) show that you understand some key points about of the figures we’ve discussed in terms of how they feel about the struggle for truth, knowledge, independence, and equality. You can demonstrate this through well-chosen evidence and summary/analysis of your evidence 2) show that you understand how the different figures may compliment/agree or contradict/disagree with each other. You can demonstrate this by thoughtfully structuring your assignment to think about how the figures would interact with and respond to each other. and 3) show how these thinkers’ ideas might relate to daily life in 2022. The Details: Your assignment should use at least three well-chosen quotes from the readings we’ve done. Cite the page numbers of any quotations and make sure the quotes are in “quotation marks.” The different figures can also summarize quotes (please also give the page numbers) analyze quotes or quotes from other thinkers and respond to each other using quotes or engaging in dialogue. Your panel should include at least three writers/artists we’ve discussed and each should have roughly equal air time on the show. Remember that you must include either Wollstonecraft or de Gouges, and two other authors/artists/thinkers of your choice. If you choose to include a fourth participant, it’s fine if they play a smaller role, like in the example below 🙂 Remember that this is a “Think on Your Feet” essay, which means you shouldn’t spend more than 90 minutes or so on it (though you might take some additional time to find good quotations). This essay should be between three and five doublespaced pages long (between 750 and 1,250 words).
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