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Romanticism and Nationalism: Class Notes

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vROMANTICISM AND NATIONALISM Romanticism One of the most important changes in European culture in the early 19th century began as a simple artistic and cultural movement—romanticism. If the Enlig... htenment was a movement which started amongst a tiny elite and slowly spread to make its influence felt throughout society, Romanticism was more widespread both in its origins and influence. No other intellectual/artistic movement has had comparable variety, reach, and staying power since the end of the Middle Ages. Beginning in Germany and England in the 1770s, by the 1820s it had swept through Europe, and it traveled quickly to the Western Hemisphere. Basic Principles Romanticism was a movement that rejected the insistence on logic and reason that was so basic to Enlightenment thought; rather in privileged emotions and feelings. According to Romantics, the habits, values, rules, and standards imposed by civilization grounded in reason were ruinous to human liberty and human happiness. Nationalism Nationalism is, at its most simple level, the idea that the nation is the fundamental unit of human social life and is more important than any other identification or social or political principles. Romantic Nationalism Like straightforward nationalism, romantic nationalism concerns the valorization of identification with the state. Romantic nationalism argued that the state derived its political legitimacy as a natural and unavoidable offshoot of the unity of the people it governs. Romantic Nationalism in Action: The Case of Greece The Muslim Ottoman Empire had ruled much of Greece since its conquest of the Byzantine Empire. But in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as a sense of nationalism grew across Europe and the power of the Ottoman Empire declined, Greek nationalism began to assert itself and drew support from Western European "philhellenes" (mostly younger Europeans who were enamored with classical Greek culture). [Show More]

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