Scholar Isaiah Berlin considered Romanticism to be “the greatest single shift in the “consciousness of the West.” This advanced course will consider the diverse bodies of Romantic Art through thematic enquiry, case study, critical and historical analysis. Divergent aesthetic ideologies in Romantic Art will be examined in relationship to both major trends and minor currents of intellectual thought during the period 1780–1840 in Europe, with an emphasis placed largely on German Romanticism. Taken together, many of the literary and philosophical texts associated with the movement have been understood as fundamental critiques of rationality; however, it is the less celebrated illustrations found in scientific treatises and works of art not acknowledged in the canon of visual arts, as well as images embedded in various forms of printed matter, which effectually capsize Enlightenment aesthetic theories and provide impetus to the development of Realism. Although the body of scholarly work that studies the interstices of Romantic art, literature, and music is enormous, the course will narrow the scope by focusing on certain works as sites of a particular pictorial kind of representational transdisciplinarity. The course proposes that the widespread interconnectedness within the fine and popular arts, through aesthetic and material production, inform the conceptualization of Romantic imagery. Excellent evaluations will be based on a high level of class participation, a consistent demonstration of the close reading of assigned texts, and a commitment to generous listening during group discussions—along with timely submission of two short essays and a final research paper.
For the Winter 2019 Course, the work of contemporary artists will help to enrich our understanding of the category in the 21st Century.