ENGL 3315 Lecture 2: 1-19-2017 Intro to Romantic Movement continued

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ENGL 3315
Romanticism as a revolution occurring during a time of revolutions
Zeitgeist german, compound noun the first “zeit” means time and “geist” means spirit
A crisis in cultures occurs when the paradigms/structures/worldviews we have of the
world no longer matches our actual experiences, when the ruling myths of our lives don’t
explain the world we live in
o Crisis of an old world falling away, but allowing the freedom for a new one to
take shape
Myths as origin stories of cultures
o The fall from paradise to a fallen world of work and sin
Romantic poets were revolutionary in another way rationalists were empiricists who
believed reality could be analyzed through the five senses and stuff and that the human
mind was a tabula rasa, a blank slate, reality is composted of sensory data. The romantics
rebelled against the rationalist view of life, they argued that reality consisted of more than
the material world and the natural world, it was more than what the five senses could take
o Romanticists also argued that there was a power of the human mind that
transcends reason and nature, they called this imagination
o Romanticists are not rejecting reason, the natural world, or the material world,
they arguing that if that’s all your worldview is then it is very limited
o Of course there were thinkers before the romanticists who were imaginative, but
they did not think of their art or ideas as being a result of imagination
Coleridge argued that the poet’s imagination is a dim analog of god
o Argued that imagination is the repetition of the finite mind
o “Yahweh” – not exacty a name but an anagram “I am who I am”
The romantic rebellion is a rebellion against the school of philosophy that focuses on the
empirical, what we would today call data. Romantic thinkers argued that there was more
to the human mind and reality
Age of Reason or The Enlightenment this was the time of rationalist philosophers vs
“The Age of Feeling” of Romantic thinkers
Alexander Pope, Samuel Smith, Jonathan Swift were the Neo-Classical school of poetry,
the classical writers being the great writers of Greece and Rome. The neoclassicists
wanted to imitate the great writers of the past and writers had to work in this format of
neoclassicism or their work was considered wrong or low quality
o Romantic poets are also rebelling against the neoclassicists
o Neoclassical poets believed there were rules to writing and focused on craft,
romantics thought this was very limiting to writing
Transcendentalists is another word for the Romantics
Wordsworth’s definition of poetry the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion
o According to this definition, what is the source of art? feeling, the inner life
o But art has also been described as being a mirror to reality, in this definition, the
source of art is the outer world mimesis. This is what you would want to do if
the truths of the world were fixed, but they aren’t(?)
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