A Reading Course in Romanticism in Art, Literature, and Music

If we’ve learned anything during the COVID19 pandemic, it is that far too many people are far too quick to forego reason, the weight of facts, and the methods of scientific inquiry for emotionalism, subjectivity, and simple ignorance when considering public policy and personal conduct in our current circumstances. I’ve always distrusted emotion, primarily because in my life I have seen it used to contrive, justify and buttress errant nonsense and the ghastly conduct that often accompanies errant nonsense–e.g. showing up heavily armed at a state capital building out of anger that you cannot get your hair done or drink in a tavern. It seems to me that when the leader of a nation-state suggests that a new, aggressive, and demonstrably fatal virus will disappear by “miracle,” romantic thinking is on the march.

In these circumstances, it is useful to remember the romantic movement in Europe rejected reason and objectivity in favor of ardor and subjectivity. I almost wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on the extent to which romanticism was implicated in twentieth-century totalitarian political movements. I don’t think one needs to watch much of a speech by either Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler, or review the propagandistic graphic art from Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, to see that these dictators weren’t appealing to the capacity for reason in their audiences.

So, now seems like as good a time as any to publish a trio of readings and comprehension worksheets on romanticism. I just rendered the readings as typescripts and wrote the worksheets a couple of days ago, so this stuff is brand new. Between the three readings, there are repetitions of key ideas: as always on Mark’s Text Terminal, all of these documents are in Microsoft Word, so you can do with them as you wish.

First, here is a reading on romanticism in the plastic arts along with its vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Second, here is a reading on the romantic movement in literature with the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

Finally, here is a reading on romantic music (not make-out records by crooners, but those nineteenth-century composers like Schumann, Liszt, and Wagner) along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

And that’s it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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