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Ben Franklin and the World of the Enlightenment

by Stanford Continuing Studies Program

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Printer, journalist, postmaster, scientist, inventor, diplomat, patriot, and tireless founder of civic institutions, Benjamin Franklin was the most versatile of the Founders—even more so than Jefferson. He was as famous as Washington in his day and his classic autobiography, with its celebration of the bourgeois virtues, is the only American autobiography of the 18th century that is still widely read today. Even the French loved him. But this master of self-presentation remains elusive; both his many pseudonyms and his bubbly wit helped him to maintain his distance from his contemporaries. This course will examine the complexity of Franklin’s personality and the diversity of his achievements. In particular, it will explore Franklin’s place in the transatlantic cultural world of the 18th century, focusing on what the Enlightenment meant to Franklin, and what Franklin meant to the Enlightenment. Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.

Customer Reviews


Lecturer has nice presentation. Thoughtful overview of franklins importance in American history. Better than most iTunes u history courses.

I want more!

I absolutely loved this course. I had read the reviews stating that the teacher's speech was distracting, but after listening to the entire course I found their critiques ridiculous. I found him to be very knowledgable, easy to listen to, and almost a bit charming in his manner of speech. He spoke of Benjamin Franklin as if he were a friend which made the information seem familiar and easy to retain. I have searched this professor's name for more courses, but have yet to find any.

You spelled “Enlightenment” wrong.

I haven’t started this yet, but the misspelling in the title graphic is REALLY off-putting and does not inspire confidence.