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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 was very disapointed in this class. If you can not give a lecture at this level without saying "uhm" every other word you should not be teaching a a university level course. I expect better from Stanford.

Difficult to listen to ...

The "um"'s and "uh"'s are Ridiculous! I can't comment on coverage or knowledge of the subject. After the first 5 minutes, the professor has literally said only 6-8 sentences; over half that time is either silence, an "uh", or an "um".