Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes

17th Century compared to 18th Century 

17th Century

1600s, a.k.a. "The Seventeenth Century": Protestant Reformation & Catholic Counter-Reformation

European & Euro-American literature & culture marked by issues of faith, values; serious tone

religious institutions, esp. Protestantism (continual fissuring and reformation)

sources of authority: revelation, tradition, scripture

profound depth of religious feeling and meaning > much great religious writing & religious music (Bach)

religious feeling > religious strife, warfare, division, intolerance, counter-productive behavior

Religious Wars of the 1500s-1600s (previous example: English Civil War, 1640s)

Little religious warfare in early America, but Salem Witch Trials share same style of righteous violence and absolute belief

But the Scientific Revolution also begins during this era . . .


British writers: John Donne (poet & minister): Batter my heart, 3-personed god



18th Century


1700s—Age of Reason, Enlightenment, Neo-Classical era

reason, science, capitalism, national institutions

sources of authority: empiricism, reason, nature

tone: tolerance (Crevecoeur), restraint, balance, irony, satire

scientific revolution: Newton, Halley, Boyle

institutions: free-market capitalism, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, balance of powers

religion: "Deism"—hands-off God, x-miracles

American Literature: "Founding Fathers"

Capitalism: 1776 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (a.k.a. "The Bible of Capitalism")

utopia? satirized (e. g., Gulliver's Travels)

Geographical power shift:

Boston, New England > Philadelphia, mid-Atlantic States (NY, VA, PA)







Dresden, Germany



interior, dome of Granada Cathedral



Neo-Classical or Enlightenment Architecture