Modern Philosophy (PHIL*6340) | College of Arts

Modern Philosophy (PHIL*6340)

Code and section: PHIL*6340*01

Term: Winter 2022

Instructor: Patricia Sheridan


Method of Delivery:

This class will taught in person, on campus.

Course Synopsis:

This course will explore the thought of three early modern thinkers: Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, and Mary Wollstonecraft. We will explore their major writings in-depth. While there are numerous themes we will discuss arising from these works, special emphasis will be given to their respective views of moral agency, self-perfection, and the interplay of rationality and social relationships in living a fully human, moral life.

Assignments & Means of Evaluation:

Handouts  - 25%

  • Each week, select students will be responsible for preparing a point-form handout of no more than 2-3 pages, which aims to specify what you take to be key, interesting points in one or more of the texts for that week. I will look for volunteers for each week once I’ve distributed the reading schedule. Your handout is in lieu of a presentation, and should take a critical approach to some aspect of the text or texts. What you choose to discuss is entirely up to you, but you should make clear what you find interesting, noteworthy, about the text or texts, whether you agree or disagree with the author. We will discuss questions raised in your handout in class. Handouts will be graded on the basis of three criteria: 1. Understanding of the text and attention to interpretive points; 2. Clarity and organization of the presentation; 3. Critical engagement with the text 

Weekly Write-ups – 15%

  • 1 -2 pages. Each write-up is worth 1.5%. You will submit your write-up via Dropbox, by 5:00 p.m. There will be 10 write-ups due over the course of the semester. The write-up is an opportunity for you to raise interpretive points and critical observations of the text. What point or points struck you as particularly interesting (i.e. that raises some interesting ideas that you think are relevant or innovative in some way), troubling (i.e. implying something worth worrying about), or problematic (perhaps inconsistent with other aspects of the text,). It is up to you what text or texts you talk about. Weekly write-ups will be graded on the basis of the following three criteria: 1. How well you’ve understood the text; 2. The clarity of your writing; 3. The quality of your critical engagement with the text. 

Research Essay – 60%

  • Two options: 
    • 2 short papers (30% each) 
    • 1 long paper (60%)

Required Textbooks:

This course uses online resources. This is a tentative list of works that may be covered:

Astell, Mary. A Serious Proposal to the Ladies (1697)
Astell, Mary. Some Reflections Upon Marriage (1700)
Masham, Damaris. Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1705)
Masham, Damaris. A Discourse Concerning the Love of God (1705)
Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
Wollstonecraft, Mary. Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787)

* Please note:  This is a preliminary web course outline only.  The Philosophy Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.