What were the priorities in the theories of the Romantic artists?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I tend to think that one of the most essential priorities for the Romantic artist is the exaltation of self.  The subjective becomes vitally important for the theory of Romantic artistic construction.  The Romantic artist understands that one of the underlying elements in the construction of work is the notion of the subjective placed within it. In this light, the self is not something to overcome, a barrier that needs to be subjugated.  Rather, the self is something that must be integrated into the artist's work and their frame of reference for reality.  Thinkers like Wordsworth or Coleridge did not see the self as something to avoid or a force that impeded artistic construction.  Rather, the self was something of vital importance, something that could not be denied.  The integration of self within the world was also a priority for the Romantic artist.  The Romantic never saw the self as divorced from a larger configuration.  For Wordsworth, the self and nature went together.  For Coleridge, the self and "the other world" of dreams and visions complemented one another.  For Keats, the self and the Classical notion of consciousness merged, while for Byron and Shelley, there was an instant linking between the individual and a larger social element.  In each setting, the priority of the Romantic artist was to vault the notion of self into a larger configuration, ensuring that the universal could be derived from the subjective.

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