Thursday, 6 December 2012

Development of the Concept of the Individual in Europe

Literary and Cultural History in Europe Is often Divided in the Following Major Periods:

* Middle Ages
* Renaissance
* Classicism/ Enlightenment
* Romanticism
* Realism
* Modernism
* Post-Modernism

Concepts about the Individual change significantly from one period to the next. Please watch the following short introductions to each period to get an idea:

1) Middle Ages

* intro to social structure in Medieval Europe:
* life in the Middle Ages:
* Medieval music:
* Medieval art:

2) Renaissance

* good general intro:
* interesting student project:
* good intro to Italian Renaissance:
* good intro to English Renaissance/ Elizabethan Age:

3) Classicism/ Enlightenment

* good general intro:
* intro to major English poets of that time:

4) Romanticism

* excellent general intro to Romanticism:
* good student project about the period:
* some "typical" Romantic images:

5) Realism (& Naturalism)

* Romanticism and Realism:
* Realism and Naturalism:

6) Modernism

* very short intro to Modernism
* Modernism (Wiki-intro):
* Modern art:

7) Post-Modernism

* Modernism and Post Modernism:
* Postmodernism:
* Postmodernism -
   part 1:
   part 2:

Let us focus on some Romantic Poets and their Innovative Ideas about the Self.
Among the most famous Romantic Poets are: 

1) William Blake
2) William Wordsworth
3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge
4) John Keats
5) Percy B. Shelley
6) George Gordon, Lord Byron

Please read the following poems:

1) William Blake

* "London":
* "Auguries of Innocence":

2) William Wordsworth

* "Tintern Abbey":
   -> see some images of Tintern Abbey:
* "Intimations of Immortality":
* "To a Skylark":
* "Resolution and Independence":

3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

* "The Eolian Harp":
* "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner":
* "Kubla Khan:

4) John Keats

* "To Autum:
* "Ode to a Nightingale":
* "Ode on a Grecian Urn":

5) Percy B. Shelley

* "To a Skylark":
* "Ozymandias":

6) Lord Byron

* "She Walks in Beauty":
* "Love and Death":

... and comment of the following questions:

1) What are some of the important values expressed or implied in these poems?

2) What do these values imply about the poets' concept of self?

3) Please compare these ideas about the self with ideas of the previous periods (Enlightenment, Renaissance) as well as with the following periods (Realism & Modernism).

4) Then compare our/your own current view of the self with each of these eras: which ideas about the self - and the universe - do we/you still subscribe to and which ones have we dropped? Why do you think is this so?

Please feel free to come up with your own ideas about the development of ideas about self in the Western World.
If you have some knowledge about Eastern Approaches to the Self please compare these ideas now to those developed in the West!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. In William Wordsworths’ poems “Lines composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” is addressing memory, mortality, faith in nature and familial love. These subjects is important in the poet’s work.
    In“Lines composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”, it is about the memory of communion with nature in childhoods works upon the mind even in adulthood, when access to the pure communion that has been lost, and that the maturity of mind present in adulthood offers compensation for the loss of thort communion- the ability to “ look on nature” and hear “human music”; that is, to see nature with an eye toward its relationship to human life. The poet knows that in the poem, this current experience will provide with future memories; just as his past experience has provided him with the memories that flicker across his present sight as he travels in the woods.
    Nature seems to have made Wordsworth human. Tintern abbey symbolizes a everlasting connection that man will share with its surroundings. Wordsworth would also remember it for bringing out the part of him that makes him “A worshiper of Nature”