Beyond Literary Landscapes—Romanticism

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


In this week’s column, we take a brief look at Romanticism in literature.

Romanticism can be defined as an “attitude or intellectual orientation that characterized many works of literature, painting, music, architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilization over a period from the late 18th to the mid-19th century.”  This literary movement can be divided into two phases, with the first beginning in the 1790s and the second taking place from 1805 to the 1830s.

In particular, some major tenets included the “rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality.”

In addition, Romantics often focused on an “appreciation of the beauties of nature … exaltation of emotion over reason … a heightened examination of human personality and its moods and mental potentialities … [and] a preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure.”

Examples of Romantic authors include William Wordworth, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord George Gordon Byron.


Some examples of Romanticism in literature include “Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems” by William Wordworth, “Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake,” “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord George Gordon Byron.


These poems are set throughout Great Britain.


These works take place during the 16 and 17-centuries.


These poems may interest AU students who would like to delve deeper into British poetry, as well as those who would like to understand the Romanticism movement, which was quite different from the Classical and Neoclassical movements.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Romanticism are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces forms of poetry, with a wide variety of examples from Shakespeare to Atwood, examining themes, structure, style, and imagery.”  (Please note that although this course does not require prerequisites, ENGL 211: Prose Forms is strongly encouraged.)  Happy reading!

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