Romantism and its interpretations as a prelude to modernity | conference

The conference is going to be dedicated to the European and American manifestations of the romantic movement whose time frames have been defined very ambiguously – since the 70’s of the 18th century until the turn between the 19th and 20th century (early modernism, the so-called neo-romantism) and these we would like to interpret in the light of the question: is romantism a prelude to modernity? The issue formulated in this way contains, as it seems, a whole variety of topics that have been a subject of heated discussions and raised controversy: where should the beginnings of modernity be situated – in the era of the Enlightment to Romanticism turn? Does Romanticism, as a period of revolution in almost every sphere of life, culture and history, trigger modernity? Or maybe on the contrary, Romanticism, considering the historiosophical concepts of some outstanding representatives of this era, was the last attempt to oppose the wave of modernity?

The second range of questions to consider refers to the issue of interpretation of the Romantic era. Leaving aside the lexical disputes and terminological-etymological arrangements, reaching at least times of Saint-Beuve, Heine, Heym Or Lovejoy, we would like to pose the question of how these interpretations and their transformations unveil not only different aspects of Romanticism, suggested by e.g. different methodological propositions, but also expose the invisible but inevitable “gravity” force of the prolonged historical perspective – what influence on the interpretation of the Romantic era has the “destabilizing” potential of modernity had? Can we perceive certain traditions and continuities in the understanding of the phenomenon of Romanticism in the interpretations of Romantic culture, and where do the breaches occur – for example: where are the divisions in the interpretations by Walter Benjamin and Manfred Frank, H. G. Schenk and Jasper Christensen?

The issues suggested above are obviously extremely debatable and extensive. We would like to present their significance in the light of interpretation of the selected examples of works of art, poetry, literature, scientific works, which could become not only the symptom of changes in the understanding of Romanticism, but also particularly chosen exempla of modern sensitivity, whose one of the sources is, with all certainty, Romanticism.

coordynator: prof. Ryszard Kasperowicz (UW)


il. Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1808-1810