Grinnell Chamber

Community Calendar

Bucket Course: Britain in the Age of Enlightenment

Event Details:

Event Type: Announcement
Location: Drake Community Library, 930 Park Street, Grinnell, IA 50112
Time: Wednesday, October 5, 2022 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Categories: Lectures & Talks

Event Description:

Grinnell College Associate Professor Michael Guenther will present a three-session Bucket Course titled “Britain in the Age of Enlightenment” September 21, 28 and October 5 from 10:00 to 11:30 AM. at the Caulkins Community Room, Drake Community Library. The sessions are free and open to the public. No fee or preregistration is required. Donations to support the purchase of refreshments will be welcomed.

Guenther’s sessions will explore how 18th century Britons experienced the Enlightenment in their daily lives. His goal is to move beyond a story of the Enlightenment as an abstract world of texts and ideas and instead to look at its material embodiment: i.e., what kinds of new objects, consumer goods, instruments, collectables, physical spaces, routines and practices emerged as the cornerstones of what it meant to be “enlightened” in the 18 th century? Each session will explore key themes of the Enlightenment and its impact on different spheres of life, by examining the complex histories of particular objects.

Guenther hopes that his audience will gain “a greater appreciation for the richness and multi-faceted nature of the Enlightenment—that is, how a set of ideas about reason, science and progress also entailed an entire cultural movement that transformed the nature of dress, domestic life, travel, sociability, work, entertainment, religion and so forth. I also hope that the focus on objects and materiality gives people a different way of approaching history than they might be used to." For those who want to read more about Guenther’s topic either before or after his presentations, he recommends Roy Porter’s The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment as well as T.H. Breen’s The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence.

Guenther earned his B. A. at the University of Virginia and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. In addition to serving as chair of the History Department, he teaches courses on the history of science and technology, environmental history, and 18 th -centruy Britain and America. He also serves as chair of the interdisciplinary department Science, Medicine and Society. He is currently working on a book project entitled Science and Civic Culture: The Politics of Knowledge in the Age of Improvement,
which explores the political role that scientific networks and institutions played in the eighteenth-century British Empire in the run-up to the American Revolution.

Bucket Courses are sponsored by the Community Education Cooperative, including Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Grinnell College, Drake Community Library, Grinnell-Newburg School District, Grinnell Area Arts Council, Mayflower Community, Grinnell Education Partnership, Read to Lead, and Iowa Valley Community College. Videos of previous Bucket Courses are available on the YouTube channel Grinnell Community Education Cooperative.

For more information, contact Bucket Course Committee Chair Judy Hunter at


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