Week 1: Defending Ancient Springs
In literature, a galaxy of poets emerged in England whose members are still at the forefront of the language: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron and Clare. They inherited the Enlightenment values of the Age of Reason, but they deepened and spiritualized those values, blending feeling and imagination with reason.
Week 2: Seeing into the Life of Things
The first generation of English Romantic poets invented modern poetry, the poetry of inner exploration: Blake was also a great painter and visionary; Wordsworth, after Rousseau, celebrated the nuptials of the soul with Nature; and Coleridge defined the Imagination, as distinct from fancy and fantasy.
Week 3: Wordsworth's Exquisite Sister
Women writers and poets of the time, who were respected by their male peers, wrote passionately about social issues, including courageous anti-slavery awareness: Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals are classics of their time; Austen and Mary Shelley wrote great novels; and Wollstonecraft is regarded as the first great feminist.
Week 4: New Horizons of Significance
After Haydn and Mozart had seemingly exhausted the tonal possibilities of classical music, along came Beethoven, followed by a host of others. In painting, formal modes gave way to Roman-inspired heroics in David, fantasy in Caspar-David Friedrich, and the sublime and the picturesque in Turner and Constable and many watercolourists.
Week 5: The Holiness of the Heart's Affections
Among the second generation of English Romantic poets, Keats's Odes and Letters are classics; Shelley's Defense of Poetry is an eloquent polemic in a distinguished genre, and the "peasant poet," John Clare, in his own words, "kicked the poems out of the clods." Byron bequeathed the word "Byronic" to posterity.
Week 6: The True Voice of Feeling
The Romantics traced rivers to their sources. They went back to the origins of creativity, and were able to blend the ancient with the avant-garde. To borrow Joyce's famous pun, they were "jung and easily freudened", so they anticipate by one hundred years those great mental pioneers.