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German Romanticism: Literature as Life

Lecturer: Nanda Jarosz

Originally Taught: Summer School 2021

This course will offer an understanding of early German Romanticism not so much as a school of thought, a philosophical movement, or even a response to a particular historical context, but rather as an intersection of personal and external relations that shaped a series of ideas, or ways of looking at the role of literature in the world of philosophy.

Over five lectures, students will be introduced to the philosophical works of a particular group of German Romantics known as ‘The Jena Circle,’ which included: the brothers Friedrich Schlegel and Wilhelm Schlegel, their wives Dorothea Schlegel and Caroline Schlegel, the young poet Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg), and the founder of ‘Naturphilosophie’ (Philosophy of Nature) Friedrich Schelling.

Focusing on the field of aesthetics, this course will investigate the importance of literature and poetry to the Jena Romantics in their pursuit of an ideal harmony between the mind and the external world. In this way, students of this course will come away with a greater understanding of the relationship between art, life and philosophy in the context of early German Romanticism. 

This course will be of an introductory nature and will suppose no prior knowledge of German Romanticism. While some of the material will be difficult, all that is required is an interest in the topic.

Monday: Historical and philosophical context surrounding the emergence of German Romanticism

Reading: Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Michael Hulse. United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1989

Tuesday: Development of the field of aesthetics in the eighteenth century

Reading: Kant, Immanuel. Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. Paul Guyer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Online. Specifically: Introduction. Pages 59-86.  AND Schiller, Friedrich. On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry. Trans. William F. Wertz, Jr.

Wednesday: Relationships of the Jena Romantics

Reading: Novalis. Hymns to the Night. Trans. George Macdonald. United Kingdom: Crescent Moon Publishing. Online:

Thursday: The idea of art as a process of historical development

Reading: Schlegel, Friedrich von. Dialogue on Poetry. Trans. Ernst Behle. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968.

Friday: Literature as life in the work of F.W.J Schelling

Reading: Schelling, F.W.J. Philosophy of Art. Trans. Douglas W. Stott. University of Minnesota Press. Specifically: General Section on the Philosophy of Art. Pages 78-161.