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BA Art History and English Literature

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:

Unit code AHCP33192
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Art History and Cultural Practices
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The first section of this course examines the nature of Romantic aesthetics and art criticism, before turning to a detailed consideration of the creations of individual artists. The second section of the course explores different critical formulations of Romanticism since the middle of the nineteenth century and proceeds to engage with recreations of Romanticism within modern culture. Particular attention will be paid to key artists, designers and thinkers:  Blake, Delacroix, Friedrich, Runge; Gauguin, Munch, Redon, Rossetti, Van Gogh; Morris, Crane and Ashbee; Baudelaire, Swinburne, Pater, Nietzsche, Symons and Yeats. Detailed study will be made of key examples of Romantic art and of such Romantic concepts as creation, execution, expression, imagination, incarnation, individualism, subjectivity, vision, vitalism, and the role of these in the critical development of the discourses on Romanticism.


  • to  give an understanding of the nature of Romantic art in general and of its critical, cultural and artistic reception in particular;
  • to analyse dynamic processes of identity formation in Romantic visual culture;
  • to examine the impact of Romantic art and aesthetics on later art forms;
  • to encourage the development of critical and argumentative skills in written and oral contexts.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Critically analyse examples of Romantic art and to place them in the appropriate critical and historical spaces
  • Critically examine examples of Romantic art writing
  • Understand some of  the contexts in which Romanticism is renewed after 1850
  • Understand some of the curatorial and institutional contexts in which Romantic painting is displayed from 1850


Sessions may  include:

  • The Wonder World: Romanticism and Aesthetics
  • Creating Romanticism: Art Criticism  from Hazlitt to Baudelaire
  • Romanticism and Composite Art (Blake)
  • Romanticism; or, Living Form and Anti-Pictorialism (Blake) Romanticism: the Book of Nature (Palmer and The Ancients)
  • Romanticism: the Book of Nature  (Friedrich, Runge and Delacroix)
  • Field Trip to Whitworth Art Gallery/Manchester Art Gallery/Rylands
  • Field Trip to Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and Lady Lever Gallery, Port Sunlight
  • Recreating Romanticism:  (Rossetti, Gauguin and Redon) 
  • Recreating Romanticism  (Munch and Van Gogh) 
  • ‘Dionysian’ Romanticism (Nietzsche to Read)
  • Romanticism and Vitalism (Pater to Yeats)
  • Exhibiting Romanticism
  • Regenerations: Romanticism, Mythos and Modern Culture
  • Neo- Romanticism and the Modern Imagination
  • Romanticism Today
  • Critical Overview and Exam Revision

Teaching and learning methods

  • Lectures, seminars, workshops, projects, directed reading and field trips
  • Course unit text, images and seminar powerpoints will be available via Blackboard

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Critically  analyse and contextualise key examples of Romantic art
  • Critically  analyse and contextualise key examples of Romantic aesthetics and other forms of artwriting
  • Demonstrate understanding of the critical reception of Romanticism
  • Demonstrate understanding of the critical development of Romanticism

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Reflect critically on relevant art historical and cultural scholarship
  • Develop skills of linguistic criticism and interpretation

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Strengthen research skills through assessed work
  • Further skills for the analysis of primary sources from the period
  • Engage with on-line research using relevant websites and databases contained in the course unit guide bibliography

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Work independently
  • Collaborate in seminar group work
  • Develop and complete assessments to specified deadlines
  • Participate constructively in seminar discussions and projects

Employability skills

Analytical skills
In addition, the assessment culture will spotlight these matters by including tasks that require candidates to consider how cultural institutions model cultural value through exhibition catalogues and gallery displays.
Problem solving
Self-awareness and critical thinking, key employability skills, will be developed by placing the subject of romanticism within the wider world of art galleries, exhibition histories and curatorial cultures.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 35%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on group presentation
  • Written feedback on essay and essay plan
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading

  • Abrams, M. H., The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition, New York, 1953
  • Bloom, Harold, Romanticism and Consciousness , New York, 1970
  • Curran, Stuart, (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Romanticism, Cambridge, 1993
  • Frye, Northrop, Fearful Symmetry, New York, 1947
  • Harrison, Charles, et al( eds), Art in Theory 1648-1815, Oxford, 2000,
  • Harrison, Charles, et al( eds), Art in Theory 1815-1900, Oxford, 1998
  • Hartley, Keith, (ed.), The Romantic Spirit in German Art, 1790-1900, Edinburgh, 1994
  • McGann, Jerome, The Romantic Ideology, Chicago, 1983
  • Podro, Michael, The Critical Historians of Art, New Haven, 1982
  • Rosenblum, Robert, Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition, New York, 1975
  • Trodd, Colin, Visions of Blake: William Blake in the Art World, 1830-1930, Liverpool, 2012

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Fieldwork 8
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 157

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Colin Trodd Unit coordinator

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