English 9197A

Romanticism, Literature and Pathology

Instructor: Professor T. Rajan
Fall Half Course.

The long Romantic period saw the invention of the term aesthetics, defined by Alexander Baumgarten as "the art of thinking beautifully." At the same time Goethe spoke of classicism as "health" and Romanticism as "sickness," casting Romantic literature as a literature deeply at odds with his and its own aesthetic norms. Romanticism, regarded as a pan-European movement, is preoccupied with melancholia, depression, the will-to-death, and other pathologies. It is also the period that sees the invention of psychiatry, resistant though this emergent field may be to the rethinking of the relation between the normal and the pathological  of which it is a symptom. This course will be concerned with the relations among art, aestheticisation and pathology, and with the new possibilities opened  up by Romanticism for a literature that increasingly transgresses the imperative to think beautifully.