General Introduction
– Welcome back, Professor Grubbs!
– Welcome back, respectability!
– How did Nathan blog so much?

What Is Romanticism?
– Not the sentimental relationship
– Not the genre
– Not the global mindset
– The Romantic movement and the Enlightenment
– Searching for a starting date
– The problem with Romantic innovation
– Particular over universal
– Post-Enlightenment, not anti-Enlightenment

Political Revolutions
– American and French Revolutions and the Enlightenment
– Tempering the Enlightenment
– Where the French Revolution went wrong
– The Cult of Reason
– The Cult of the Supreme Being
– The Reign of Terror
– Napoleon’s Takeover

The Grimms
– Fairytale as new genre
– The rise of national consciousness
– Folklore
– From particular to universal
– The invention of childhood

– The one-sided Emerson
– The individual! The individual! The individual!
– Trust thyself
– Impulses from the devil
– And how is your Oversoul today?
– Consistency and contradiction
– Nietzsche and Emerson

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage
– The individualistic epic
– Byron as Jackson Browne
– Byron’s satisfied unhappiness
– Model for the New Evangelicalism

Romantic Literary Criticism
– The rise of the English department
– Art as personal expression
– How the Romantics ruined Shakespeare
– The mirror and the lamp

The Good and Bad of the Romantic Legacy
– Individual experience
– Learning about emotion
– The apologetics of desire
– Originality and authenticity in religion
– Church traditions as folklore and baseball teams
– Subjectivity
– Existentialism Is a Romanticism
– The Christian Imagination
– Turning to the small town
– Nationalism



Abrams, M.H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. New York: Oxford UP, 1971.

Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

Blake, William. Blake’s Poetry and Designs. New York: Norton, 2007.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures. New York: Library of America, 1984.

Grimm, Jakob and Wilhelm. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Trans. Jack Zipes. New York: Bantam, 2000.

Kalevala, The. Trans. Keith Bosley. New York: Oxford UP, 2009.

Marx, Leo. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.

Poe, Edgar Allan. Poetry, Tales, and Selected Essays. New York: Library of America, 1984.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Other Writings. New York: Modern Library, 2000.

Whitman, Walt. Poetry and Prose. New York: Library of America, 1996.

Wordsworth, William, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Lyrical Ballads. New York: Penguin, 2007.

6 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #68: Romanticism”
  1. Good luck with the defense, Nathan!

    Don’t be afraid to employ a little shameless positive emotional manipulation. When I had my dissertation proposal meeting with the committee, I broke out my mother’s best cookie recipe and brought snacks. For my dissertation defense, I made banana bread. 🙂

  2. A correction: “Lyrical Ballads” was published in 1798, NOT 1785. I was getting that date crossed with the date of Mallory’s “Mort D’Arthur,” which was 1485.

  3. Just got done listening to Romanticism. Enjoyed it.
    Just a few items that you might have included instead of the ones you did (not that any of them is somehow better than the others–how’s that for subjectivity?):
    1765: Percy’s Reliques–not the first collection of stories, but the beginning of the English interest in folk and fairy stories.
    1774: Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther–the privileging of emotion over reason, and the influencing of an entire generation of young men.
    1782: Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau published–the first modern autobiography, despite its title: Rousseau reveals that he was raised on romance novels and that his sexual relationships were colored by his being spanked by a very hot governness.
    1780s to 1796: Robert Burns–talk about the importance of place; Burns is still the national poet of Scotland, even though Scotland has been a nation in name only (though that may change).
    1808: Goethe’s Faust, part 1–a Romantic version of the Faust legend, perhaps the invention of the Byronic hero.

    BTW, if you really wanted an emblem of the self-centeredness of the Romantic poet, another good choice would have been PB Shelley, whose contribution to the pastoral elegy is so much more about Shelley than it is about Keats. Indeed, there is none of the typical “Adonais and I ran about chasing shepherdesses and playing our pipes” kind of thing one expects in the genre.

    And the best example of misunderstanding Wordsworth’s “overflow of spontaneous emotion recollected in tranquillity” has got to be the poetry of middle school and high school students. They got the spontaneous down, but they sure miss out on the tranquillity.

  4. First, my apologies to anyone waiting for the episode to hit iTunes or the RSS feed this morning. My daughter has been sick since last night, and it just slipped my mind this morning.

    Charles, thanks for the well-wishes. It’s occurred to me more than once that I’ll be updating the xml file to include episode 69 just before I leave to defend my dissertation.

    Paul, when we were doing pre-show prep, I had originally thought that Michial would do something American for our round robin (1 for 1), but then David surprised me by going Teutonic and picking the Grimm brothers (1 for 2). So I turned away from Goethe’s Faust (it’s the text that I use to teach Continental Romanticism to my English majors) and went for Byron since nobody else had claimed any English poetry. I had entertained the possibility of going with Burns or Blake, but I figure I got Blake in there when we talked about the poetry of the revolutions.

    Thanks for listening and for the comments, all!

  5. Hey Team,

    This certainly isn’t an academic product but the Winterbottom film “The Trip” which came out this year (which is on Netflix streaming) has a nice running theme about being an “artist” and how destructive that can be to one’s human relationships. One of the characters sees himself as a North-England Romantic. It’s pretty funny too.

    It’s not family friendly at all but, if you get a chance, it’s one of my top 5 films of last year.

    WARNING TO NATHAN: It’s shot in “veritae” or “mumble” style. I know you hate that.

    Check it out, if you have a free hour or two.

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