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The Enlightenment and its Others


Admission requirements

BA Middle Eastern Studies students who have successfully completed the propedeutic exam of the BA Middle Eastern Studies.
Students from other relevant bachelors programmes (e.g. History, Philosophy) who are interested in taking this course are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies


Post-colonial scholarship has examined the ways in which colonial scholarship regarding the Middle East produced misrepresentations as knowledge. In this course we will place Orientalism in the historical context of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers attempted to formulate a systematic theory and method for the study of human beings and their societies in terms of reason, race, climate, and slavery. These debates took place in the broader context of European discussions of the differential progress attained by various European societies. We will read English, French, and German Enlightenment thinkers to examine the ways in which various Oriental others were characterized in narratives of European progress..

Course objectives

  • Acquire familiarity with Enlightenment debates regarding European and non-European Others.

  • Learn to contextualize and evaluate a set of debates in light of the socio-economic and political processes from which they emerge.


Time table

Mode of instruction

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

  • Lectures: 13 x 2 = 26 hrs

  • Reading and preparation exams: 100 hrs

  • Writing responses: 10 hrs

  • Exams: 4 hrs

Assessment method


  • Attendance and Participation Participation will require the submission of a written response to the week’s assigned readings (approximately 100 words). Responses must be submitted on Blackboard 24 hours in advance of the class.

  • Mid-term exam

  • Final exam


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average;

  • Attendance and Participation: 30%

  • Mid-term exam: 35%

  • Final exam: 35%


The resit consists of an exam (which will cover mid-term and final) that counts for 70%.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list

  • Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondant. 2008 [1721]. Persian Letters, trans. Margaret Mauldon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Montagu, Mary. 2012 [1763]. The Turkish Embassy Letters. Guelph: Broadview Press.

  • Eze, Emmanuel Chukwudi, ed., 1997. Race and Enlightenment: A Reader. London: Blackwell.

  • Hunt, Lynn. 1996. The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History. Boston: Bedford’s of St. Martin’s Press.

Electronic copies of readings will be provided


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. N. Latif