This volume investigates the impact of the Radical Enlightenment on German culture during the eighteenth century, taking recent work by Jonathan Israel as its point of departure. The collection documents the cultural dimension of the debate on the Radical Enlightenment. In a series of readings of known and lesser-known fictional and essayistic texts, individual contributors show that these can be read not only as articulating a conflict between Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, but also as documents of a debate about the precise nature of Enlightenment. At stake is the question whether the Enlightenment should aim to be an atheist, materialist, and political movement that wants to change society, or, in spite of its belief in rationality, should respect monarchy, aristocracy, and established religion.
Contributors are: Mary Helen Dupree, Sean Franzel, Peter Höyng, John A. McCarthy, Monika Nenon, Carl Niekerk, Daniel Purdy, William Rasch, Ann Schmiesing, Paul S. Spalding, Gabriela Stoicea, Birgit Tautz, Andrew Weeks, Chunjie Zhang
Carl Niekerk is Professor of German, French, Comparative and World Literature, and Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is interested in European literature and culture since 1700, and currently editor of the Lessing Yearbook and the German Quarterly.
Readers interested in the history of the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century European culture and intellectual history more broadly, including issues of gender, race and ethnicity, religious diversity, and the links between culture and politics.