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Glossary of Literary Theory
A movement of the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century that exalts individualism over collectivism, revolutionism over conservatism, innovation over tradition, imagination over reason, and spontaneity over constraint. According to romanticism, art is essentially self-expression, a spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. A work of art should exemplify organic form so that the parts and the whole are vitally interdependent. Romanticism strives to heal the cleavage between subject and object, "to make the external internal, the internal external, to make nature thought, and thought nature" (Samuel Taylor Coleridge). As a political idea, Romanticism stresses the innate goodness of human beings and the evil of the institutions that trammel and stultify human creativity.
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