MUS41180 Music & the Enlightenment

Academic Year 2023/2024

*** Not available in the academic year indicated above ***

The period from the late seventeenth through to the late eighteenth century has often been characterised by music historians as “the Age of Enlightenment,” yet from the perspective of European history, this is a period characterised in large part by colonialism, war, poverty, and chattel slavery. What, then, might it mean to speak of “Enlightenment” in general, and of “Enlightenment music” in particular?

In response to such questions, this module seeks to engage music and musical thought from c. 1680 to c. 1800 from the perspective of the so-called Enlightenment movement in European thought of this period. Rather than seeking any kind of comprehensive coverage, it homes in on a set of case studies arising from broadly philosophical issues: knowledge, gender, religion (especially intersections of Christianity and Islam), and race.

Throughout these case studies, we will return repeatedly to the meaning of the course’s core term: Enlightenment. This will include consideration of the fraught ethical stakes of that term, of the relationship of “the Enlightenment” to “the Baroque,” and of whether it could ever make sense to talk of music in terms of a visual metaphor (the En*light*enment).

Further information on other aspects of this course (assessment etc) will follow shortly.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students should be able to engage critically in ongoing debates surrounding the nature of the "Enlightenment" and the place of music and musical thought in this movement.

Indicative Module Content:

Religion (especially intersections of Christianity and Islam)
Race (especially in relation to issues of colonialism)
The nature of "Enlightenment"
The Enlightenment and the Baroque

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The course will be ran as a series of seminars focussing on key issues. The seminars will focus in part on key readings; here, student reading responses will help to start the discussion. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Final essay (of a length appropriate for a "short" Masters course) arising from a topic covered Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment: Three short reading responses, spoken in class with detailed notes or full text provided in advance. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback shortly after each individual reading response, to help inform future responses and critical thinking skills; feedback on draft essay to assist in preparation of final essay; feedback on final essay.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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