If one term can be used to describe the forces that have shaped the modern world, it is Romanticism. So potent has Romanticism been since the late 18th century that one author has called it "the profoundest cultural transformation in human history since the invention of the city." Romanticism was not a movement; it was a series of movements that had dynamic impacts on art, literature, science, religion, economics, politics, and the individual's understanding of self. Not all streams of Romanticism were the same. Some, in fact, were almost completely the opposite in their results from others. Nor was the impact the same at all times. Romanticism progressed in stages, each of which had its own emphasis.
Attempting a Definition
There is no single commonly accepted definition of Romanticism, but it has some features upon which there is general agreement. First of all, it was a rejection of the Enlightenment and the emphasis upon human reason. The Enlightenment thinkers asse...