Romantic Literature in British and European Contexts

Kazuyoshi OISHI Associate Professor

Department: School of Letters / Graduate School of Letters

Class Time: 2011 Spring Thursday
Recommended for: School of Letters Second, Third, Fourth-year Students and Graduate School of Letters Students

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Course Overview

Romanticism is an elusive movement. It is not just a literary movement, but a movement that cuts across all other cultural fields, such as art, music, religion, and even philosophy. With such versatile features, Romanticism refuses any fixed definition. This course illustrates some basic aspects of Romanticism, mainly focusing on the British context of 1760–1830, but with the whole European context in view as a whole. Romanticism arose in an age when various social and political upheavals disturbed and upset the traditional systems on a global scale. Students are expected not only to learn the basic methods of textual interpretation, but also to acquire the skill of reading those historical backgrounds through Romantic Literature. This will be an important approach, especially in the contemporary age of globalisation and multi-culturalism.

Key Feature

  • This course presents various aspects of Romantic Literature in British and whole European contexts. Romanticism is such a versatile literary and artistic movement, and even philosophical phenomenon, that it cannot be summarised easily in a series of fifteen lectures. Students will read some major works and study the lives of representative figures in both literary and social contexts of the age.
  • Students are expected to read literary works and some important criticisms in English during the course, and thereby learn some of the basics of literary criticism. This will contribute to advancing your English proficiency, as well as equipping you with basic techniques of interpretation.
  • Romanticism was not a literary movement in the British Isles alone. It rose and spread through the whole of Europe. This course aims to look at Romanticism in the whole European context. Students will study major Romantic poets and novelists of France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries, so that the multifaceted features of Romanticism become clear from a wider viewpoint.
  • The course also illustrates the historical context in which Romanticism arose in Europe. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and industrial revolutions all provided important factors which facilitated the rise of Romanticism. Students will also study important paintings and music, such as that of Turner, Beethoven, and Schubert, which will demonstrate the essence of Romanticism in some interesting ways.

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Course Requirements

English proficiency is essential for this course. Students are expected to read various literary and sometimes historiographical texts in English. French and German works are usually translated into English.

Related Resources

Students are expected to read relevant pages of Michael Ferber's Romanticism every week, and also to study important works as discussed by Ferber.

  • Michael Ferber, Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0-19-956891-8
  • Ferber, Michael. Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: OUP, 2010.
  • Wu, Duncan, ed. Romanticism: An Anthology. 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
  • ———, ed. A Companion to Romanticism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.
  • Roe, Nicholas, ed. Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. Oxford: OUP, 2005.
  • McCalman, Iain, Jon Mee, Gillian Russell, Clara Tuite, eds. An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776–1832. Oxford: OUP, 1999.

Course Schedule

Session Contents
Chapter 1: The Meaning of the Word, pp.1–13
Chapter 2: Sensibility
Sympathy, Melancholy, and Horror, pp.16–23
Chapter 2: Sensibility
The Cult of Ossian, pp.24–31
Chapter 3: The Poet
[Introduction] pp.32–34
Eagles, pp.39–43
Dying Poets, pp.43–47
Chapter 3: The Poet
Suffering Poets, pp.47–52
Widening Meanings, pp.52–55
Women Poets, pp.55–62
Chapter 4: Religion, Philosophy, and Science
[Introduction] pp.63–66
The Religion of Nature, pp.66–70
Greek Paganism, pp.70–72
[Reading Week]
Chapter 4: Religion, Philosophy, and Science
The Sublime, pp.72–76
The Religion of Art, pp.76–81
Chapter 4: Religion, Philosophy, and Science
Idealism, pp.81–87
Pantheism, pp.87–89
Chapter 4: Religion, Philosophy, and Science
Science, pp.89–92
Chapter 5: The Social Vision of Romanticism
[Introduction] pp.93–94
The French Revolution, pp.94–98
The Industrial Revolution and the Bonds of Community, pp.98–101
Chapter 5: The Social Vision of Romanticism
Nationalism and Internationalism, pp.101–107
War, pp.107–109
Chapter 5: The Social Vision of Romanticism
The Condition of Women, pp.109–111
The Exotic, pp.111–120
Chapter 6: The Arts
[Introduction] pp.121–122
Content, pp.122–124
Form, pp.124–127
The Prestige of Music, pp.128–131
Summary / Final examination


Grading will be made on the basis of students' attendance and performance in the classroom (40%) and examination (60%).

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Lecture Handouts

Note: All files except for Session #13 are in Japanese.

Session #1 The Meaning of the Word
Slides (PDF, 1031KB)
Handouts (PDF, 65KB)
Session #2 Sensibility (Part I)
Slides (PDF, 2292KB)
Handouts (PDF, 207KB)
Session #3 Sensibility (Part II)
Slides (PDF, 5522KB)
Handouts (PDF, 151KB)
Session #4 The Poet (Part I)
Slides (PDF, 764KB)
Handouts (PDF, 93KB)
Session #5 The Poet (Part II)
Slides (PDF, 3666KB)
Handouts (PDF, 86KB)
Session #6 Religion, Philosophy, and Science (Part I)
Slides (PDF, 2989KB)
Handouts (PDF, 93KB)
Session #7 Reading Week
Session #8 Religion, Philosophy, and Science (Part II)
Slides (PDF, 5005KB)
Handouts (PDF, 89KB)
Session #9 Religion, Philosophy, and Science (Part III)
Slides (PDF, 5929KB)
Handouts (PDF, 170KB)
Session #10 The Social Vision of Romanticism (Part I)
Slides (PDF, 6073KB)
Handouts (PDF, 104KB)
Session #11 The Social Vision of Romanticism (Part II)
Slides (PDF, 5524KB)
Handouts (PDF, 171KB)
Session #12 The Exotic
Slides (PDF, 6185KB)
Handouts (PDF, 93KB)
Session #13 Women and Romanticism
Special Invited Lecture by Felicity James
Slides (PDF, 1670KB)
Handouts (PDF, 283KB)
Session #14 The Arts
Slides (PDF, 3025KB)
Handouts (PDF, 190KB)
Session #15 Exam
Exam (PDF, 67KB)

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Page last updated September 2, 2011

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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