European Enlightenment was discussed in depth as to who was trying to change the way Europeans thought. There were advanced thinkers like Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Smith and Paine. They emphasized less on the Church and more on Science. Through-out history the majority of the nobility were not concerned with the rights of the poor unless it would lead to revolts or rebellion. This was significant because the Enlightenment tried to bring more equality to the lower class. It did not however go as far as more rights for women or the discussion of slavery. The Encyclopedia was first published in 1751 to bring knowledge to the people and salons were popular where individuals could go and discuss enlightening ideas. The Enlightenment Era definitely had an impression of the founding of the United States of America that gave men certain inalienable rights.
Of Elephants and Roses gives insight to Paris during the Enlightenment over 200 years ago. This exhibit contains teeth from a Mastodon that was sent to Paris from Thomas Jefferson. Napoleon’s Josephine has her 2 stuffed Black Swan’s on display. There is also an original watercolor by Pierre Joseph Redouté, known as the “Raphael of Flowers.” This is significant because naturalists were popular during the Enlightenment. This connects historically because Paris was the center for life sciences in the western civilization. There was even a score for a revolutionary song played for two elephants in the Paris menagerie in an attempt to make them breed.
Technology and Enlightenment focuses on Diderot’s encyclopedia. The encyclopedia consisted of 28 volumes as was quite controversial in its day. It placed an emphasis on human reason which contradicted church dogma. It undermined religious authority. What was significant about Diderot’s encyclopedia is that it focused on mechanical arts. He showed that working with ones hands was an art form, where much of the upper elite found manual labor boorish. He used thousands of illustrations to break down how something is made. One example is the process for making playing cards is quite intricate, which Diderot showed. During the time period, much of the population enjoyed playing cards. After reading the passage, one would have a much more appreciation for the laborer making the cards. This connects to western civilization because the emphasis starts to wane away from the church controlling the people.
Lady Mary Mortley Montagu describes the life of a social elite wife of privilege in London during the Enlightenment. She brings flair in her letters that is more enlighten as to how women’s lives are affected by the trying times of the day. This is significant on her travels to the Ottoman Empire with her husband. In turkey she finds the truth at how women actually live that man could never find out. Lady Mary also fights the cause to have a smallpox vaccine used in London like the way it was being used in Turkey. She really bring western civilization into the realm of controlling smallpox.
Amy Darty, “The Age of Enlightenment” (Lecture, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, February 5, 2017).
Of Elephants and Roses: Encounters with French Natural History, 1750-1830, http://www.apsmuseum.org/elephants-and-roses/ (Accessed February 5, 2017)
Technology and Enlightenment: The Mechanical Arts in Diderot’s Encyclopedie, https://libraries.mit.edu/exhibits/diderots-encyclopedia-exhibit-preview/ (Accessed February 5, 2017)
Lady Mary Mortley Montagu, http://www.luminarium.org/eightlit/montagu/marybio.htm, (Accessed February 5, 2017)