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California State University, Sacramento

 HRS 135: The Romantic Spirit
Spring 2003

MWF 10:00-10:50AM
MRP 2030

George S. Craft
Tahoe 3088
Office Hours: T 9:00-10:00
Telephone: 278-6400
W 2:00-3:00
M 4:30-5:15


The Romantic Spirit. A semester of the interdisciplinary study of 19th century Anglo-European culture, with emphasis on the emergence of revolutionary art forms and world-views rooted in idealism. Prerequisite: Passing score on the WPE. 3 units.


Romantic artists stress the feelings of the unique creative individual, stimulate the imagination and advocate freedom from rules in their search for the infinite (God), which they often find in love between the sexes and nature. These values have always played a role in the arts and humanities, but found particular expression in the early 19th century; they continued to have great influence over modernist art and other 20th century movements.

This course will study some of the great works of art, music and literature of Western world in the 19th century. We will focus primarily on the Romantic Era proper from about 1770 to 1850, but we will also consider works of the Age of Realism after 1840, and of Late Romanticism from about 1880 to 1914. The course is highly interdisciplinary. We will focus primarily on imaginative literature -- novels, short novels, short stories and poetry. Our second focus will be on music, with most emphasis on orchestral music but with attention devoted also piano music. Painting will also be considered, usually to reinforce points made in other areas. Our geographical focus will be on France, Germany and England. All of this is in some sense bound together by ideas, values and leitmotifs, which are characteristic of western civilization in this period. It is also interesting to identify the differences among the "Romanticisms" of different national traditions.


-- acquaint you with some of the great works of European (western) civilization in literature and the arts, especially in the Romantic Era.
-- help you develop your own personal aesthetic sense (appreciation of beauty) by considering these works.
-- give you some deeper insight into the character of your civilization (e.g., the image of women, the cult of nature, romantic love as consistent trends in the West) as exhibited specifically in the 19th century.
-- help you improve your critical and writing skills by discussion of topics in class and by writing critical thought papers. This aim is particularly important since HRS 155 is an Advanced Study course.


The following books are available in inexpensive (mostly Penguin) editions in the Hornet Bookstore. You do not have to purchase the editions available there.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, The Sufferings of Young Werther. 1774. Tragic epistolary novel about the effects of unrequited love on a sensitive soul; the original sensitive lover. Seminal for an understanding of Romanticism.
E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann. 1827-39. Famous stories focusing on abnormal psychology, the supernatural and the grotesque; very entertaining and well written. Much influence on 19th century literature including E.A. Poe.
Applebaum, ed., English Romantic Poetry: Anthology. A useful anthology of English poetry in the Romantic period.
Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin. 1831. Classic Russian work of humor, great lyrical beauty, and individual Angst. Written in verse. Seminal for understanding of "the Russian soul." Made into a famous opera by Tchaikovsky (1879).
Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest. 1895. A novel in the 19th century tradition of adulteresses. Against the backdrop of Prussia and Germany. Understated work of great beauty.

You will receive numerous dittoed handouts of source materials (poetry, essays, articles, etc.). We will of course make extensive use of videotapes, recordings and slides to study the music and painting.


Most of class time will be devoted to a structured discussion of the texts. I will give you precise reading assignments accompanied by study lists when possible. I expect you to have the reading done by the day of the assignment.

Participation in class discussion is important. To encourage your participation, I will assign "teams" of discussion "specialists" among you to be responsible for the reading assignments. Specialists would be expected to have read the assigned material carefully and to help lead the discussion with questions and informed comments.

There will also be lecture classes in which the instructor presents material on music and painting. You will be responsible for this material on your tests.

As a great deal of the learning in this course occurs in class, I expect all of you to attend class regularly (at least 85% of the time). I will take attendance most days. You may lose up to one full grade point by poor attendance.


A) Since this is an Advanced Study course, writing is very important. In the third week of class, you will have a short (about 500 words) diagnostic essay to write. You will then be assigned three papers spaced at equal intervals, about every four weeks and all on different topics. The last paper will be due the date of the final exam. Each paper must be 4-5 standard typewritten pages or the equivalent in legible longhand. You will write critical thought papers, the topics being chosen from a list of essay questions distributed two or three weeks before the due date.

The grade I assign your paper will be affected by both content (depth, inventiveness, cohesion of your ideas) and writing style (correctness, clarity and elegance). Consult the "Guidelines for Writing Thought Papers" that I will distribute shortly

B) There will be two short-essay exams. They will test basic information and insights covered in class discussions and readings. You will have a specific list of study questions to study from. The second exam, which will not be comprehensive, will be on the date of the final examination. More about these later.

The key to doing well on the tests is regular attendance of class.

C) Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

Two Essay tests @ 15% = 30%
Diagnostic Essay = 10%
Three Critical Essays @ 20% = 60%
Total = 100%

As mentioned before, your grade may be significantly affected by your class participation and especially by your attendance.


Week 1 January 27 What is Romanticism? Hugo article and examples. History from 1789 to about 1840.

Week 2: February 3 -- The Enlightenment; Classicism in the 18th century.

Week 3: February 10 -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Fifth Promenade.

Week 4: February 17 -- Romantic Painting: from David to Delacroix and Caspar Friedrich. Toward Modern Art.

Week 5: February 24 -- Germany Before 1850; The Storm and Stress; Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Week 6: March 3 -- The Early Romantic Orchestra: from Mozart to Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

Week 7: March 10 -- Romantic Poetry: the Applebaum Anthology of English poetry; excerpts too from German writers.

Week 8: March 17 -- Romantic Keyboard Music from Mozart to Schubert, Chopin and Schumann.

Week 9: March 24 -- Hoffman, Tales. Romantic fantasy and the supernatural. E.A Poe, "Fall of the House of Usher."

Week 10: March 31-- The Romantic Fairy Tale: the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen.

Week 11: April 7 -- Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin. The national poet of Russia. The alienated man.

Week 12: April 21 -- Orchestral music after 1840: program music and nationalism, especially in Russia; the waltz in Vienna (Johann Strauss).

Week 13: April 28 -- Europe in the Age of Realism; Darwin and Marx; Germany after 1850 -- Bismarck and industrialization.

Week 14: May 5 -- Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest.

Week 15: May 12 -- The Fin de Siècle: Neo-Romanticism, Symbolist poetry; Débussy or Richard Strauss; the path to Modernist art.

ENVOI -- I will do my part to make the Romantic Spirit an interesting and entertaining course. To take advantage of it, you need to make up your mind to give it a chance, and then to take it seriously! Come to class regularly, do the reading and assignments, and wrestle a little with the material. Enjoy yourself. Everything we do in this course is (at least in my opinion) fun!