blue flower
Unfinished Stories: Self, Cosmos, and Eternity in a Revolutionary Age
R1B (section 2) :  English Composition through French Literature in Translation
Spring 2021
Class No: 22220
remote; synchronous
T. Sanders


Percy Bysshe Shelley: The Triumph of Life
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Reveries of the Solitary Walker
Novalis: Heinrich von Ofterdingen
Nerval: Aurélia
Chrétien de Troyes: Perceval, The Story of the Grail

The Storming of the Bastille in 1789 continues to serve as an important symbolic emblem of the historical imagination. It marked the beginning of a violent revolutionary decade that ended with Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’état in 1799. This event would usher in another tumultuous period of war across Europe that ended at the legendary Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The language of old struggled to make sense of these unprecedented events—the world had been turned upside down. Against this backdrop, Romanticism emerged, reinventing the language of the past to chart a path forward into the future. In particular, the Romantics looked to the symbolic language of religion to decipher human history. Collectively, they fashioned a creative and eclectic vision of past, present, and future—one that radiates infinitely in every direction. 

In this course, we will enter the mystery of Romantic philosophy by reading a selection of unfinished stories, lyrical fragments of transformation and renewal. We will encounter its dynamic poetic imagination and its sparkling contemplation of the beautiful. We will explore themes of exile and return, division and unity, individuality and collectivity, death and rebirth, being and becoming—self, cosmos, and eternity. We will conclude our journey with a return to the misty medieval past of Arthurian legend and the quest for the Holy Grail.

Additional Information:

French R1B satisfies the second half of the Reading and Composition Requirement. Classes conducted in ENGLISH.  Enrollment is limited to 17 students.

Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes.  This includes all enrolled and wait listed students.  Students who do not attend all classes during the first two weeks may be dropped. Students attempting to add this class during weeks 1 and 2 who did not attend the first day will be expected to add themselves to the wait list and attend all class meetings thereafter.  If space permits, they may be enrolled from the wait list.