Enlightenment and Romanticism
Full course description
The debate between Enlightenment and Romanticism has an enduring impact on discussions of today in art, politics, science, human identity and social values. We can hardly understand the Western world without knowledge of these two decisive periods. This course is a systematical introduction to these two, formative, opposed intellectual traditions.
First, a historical context will be presented to the political and ideological ambitions of the Enlightenment (enlightened despotism, Voltaire at the court of Frederick the Great, censorship and the diffusion of the Enlightenment).
Secondly the opposed approach to ‘Nature’ will be introduced; the influence of Newton, the rise of modern science, the Encyclopédie vs. Romantic science (e.g. Goethe’s criticism on Newton’s Theory of Colour) and the role of the arts in the new approach to Nature (such as landscape painting and romantic poetry).
Then, the changes in the visual arts will illustrate continuity and discontinuity in cultural history (Romanticism and Neo-Classicism).
In the fourth place human subjectivity in the Enlightenment (based on Lockean psychology and Self-love) will be confronted to new approaches to the romantic soul (the unconsciousness, irrationality, Weltschmerz). This will also be discussed with an analysis of the classic movie Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Frears, 1988).
Finally, discussions about morals and politics will be presented (Rousseau, the Social Contract, the slogans of the French Revolution vs. Romantic values concerning the State and personal relationships like love and friendship, nationalism).
- To provide students with a historical and philosophical introduction to Enlightenment and Romanticism.
- To understand these periods as opposed worldviews in social, philosophical, scientific and political perspective.
- To learn how much our life and culture is structured by enlightened and romantic views and values; our obsession with authenticity, nationalism, our attitude to science and technology, belief in democracy, our emotional life, personal relationships like love and friendship, the importance of Nature, universal human (and animal) rights, etc.
Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New York 2011.
Norman Hampson, The Enlightenment. An evaluation of its assumptions, attitudes and values. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1990.
Maurice Cranston, The Romantic Movement. Blackwell, Oxford/Cambridge (Mass.) 1995.