Foreign Languages and Literatures at MIT

21F.059: Paradigms of European Thought and Culture

Office Hours


Subject surveys the main currents of European cultural and intellectual history in the modern period. The curriculum introduces a set of ideas and arguments that have played a formative role in European culture, and acquaints students with exemplars of critical thought. Readings begin with the Protestant Reformation and move through the French Revolution up to the post-WWII period. Figures to be considered include Luther, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Rousseau, Smith, Marx, Freud, Simone de Beauvoir, and Foucault. Class discussions set these texts into the context of European culture. Topics to be considered are artworks by Goya, David, and Duchamp; the architecture of Schinkel; the music of Bach; and the literature of Goethe. Taught in English.

Units: 3-0-9(U)

HASS-D Cat 2

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Last Updated: 4/24/2014