A major characteristic of Romanticism is its focus on the individual. Its artistic expression was bound to individual impressions, moods, feelings, and sentiments. What does this mean?

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This statement means that Romantic writers and artists focused on the experiences and feelings of the individual as their primary subject matter. Romantics called for a privileging of emotion, which does not have to be taught, over reason and logic, which, they argued, do have to be taught. For example, a baby is born knowing how to feel intensely but must be coached in logic and reason; for Romantics, this meant that feelings are more fundamental, more natural, to the human experience than anything else. Further, they prized individual creativity and championed the idea of individual genius: that which is uncultivated and uncorrupted by society's influence. Finally, Romantics were especially interested in nature and nature's positive effects and influences on the individual. Therefore, anything to do with the individual's emotions, creativity, and unique perspectives could easily form the focus of a Romantic text or piece of visual art.

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Romanticism was in part a reaction to the Enlightenment and its focus on reason. The style of Classicism that prevailed during the Enlightenment focused on order, calm, and balance. Romanticism, on the other hand, made personal experience and sensation the most important mean of expression. In addition, Romanticism was a reaction against industrialization and its emphasis on progress instead of on the beauties of nature and on groups rather than the individual. In Europe and the U.S., many intellectuals and artists believed that industrialization threatened the individual and nature, and Romanticism was their attempt to recover the experience of the individual. Romanticism prioritized turning back the clock to recover experiences that were characteristic of life before industrialization, including individual experience; feeling and emotion over progress and reason; and the importance of childhood and innocence.  

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