Dark Romantics


Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters

Taught by

literature, philosophy, and languages
art history, French
visual arts, painting, drawing
visual arts, art history, photography
French language
European history

... and for what purpose are there poets in a lean time ...—Hölderlin, "Bread and Wine"

We will study art history, literature, philosophy and music in their social and historical contexts in order to understand the Romantic avant-garde thinkers and artists, outsiders in 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, and their tenuous but fruitful dialogue with mainstream culture and the emerging popular culture of the laboring class. We will emphasize French Romanticism, but will also consider the pan-European nature of the phenomenon. This era offers a figurative battlefield where concepts of art, nature and self, order and chaos, locked swords, testing the limits of rational thought. French language study will be an important component of our weekly work; students will study French at one of four levels, from beginning to advanced.

The 19th century was an era of immense political change spanning revolutions, empires and finally the establishment of democracy at home, just as European imperialism spread across Africa and Asia. We will study ways in which average women and men crafted their own identities and responded to the larger social forces of industrialization, the creation of a new working class, the solidification of gender and class roles, the rise of modern cities and the redefinition of the criminal, the socially-acceptable and the outsider.

In fall, our work will begin with the paintings, poems and ideas of the early Romantics. The Romantics privileged feeling, intuition and empathy. Like adepts in an ancient mystery cult, they sought to commune with Nature. Romantic philosophers, from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche, spoke of Becoming rather than Being. Rejecting Classical order, clarity and restraint, they envisioned a pure art, beyond language and depiction, which speaks musically through color, passion, suggestion, enigmatically, as do dreams.

In winter, focus will turn to the late Romantics. Decadents pushed the Romantic temperament and aesthetic to extremes through self parody and the aesthetic of fragmentation. Symbolists attempted to express the inexpressible through their art. Yet Mallarmé, Wilde and Yeats, Moreau and Gauguin, among others, helped prepare the “rites of spring” of the dawning 20th century, the arising vanguard of modernist and postmodern movements.

In spring quarter, students may pursue individual research/creative projects on campus or may travel to France for 10 weeks. There they will study in a Rennes, Brittany, language school, do cultural and historical study in Paris and Lyon, as well as make side trips for research of their own.

In this program, students will gain a significant grasp of key ideas in art, history and thought within their context, and will have the opportunity to specialize, creating advanced work in their choice of history, art history or writing and literature. We expect strong interest and background in humanities, and considerable self-discipline and motivation. The workload, including French language study, will be substantial and rigorous. Students will work in interdisciplinary all-program sessions and assignments, as well as choose one of three possible seminar groups. These emphasize: 1) literature and philosophy, 2) history, and 3) photography and visual arts, practice and theory.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

graduate study in literature, philosophy, history and visual arts; work in international governmental and NGO organizations and businesses; publishing; and work in arts organizations and museums.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Study Abroad

Approximately $6,500 (optional) in spring quarter for students who choose to do a 10-week study abroad in France.


Date Revision
April 3rd, 2013 Shaw Osha has joined the teaching team; enrollments have been increased.
February 1st, 2013 Bob Haft has joined the teaching team for fall quarter.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 100


Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 10113
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 10352

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Accepting New Students


Students joining the program will need to complete reading assignments, Against Nature by J.-K Huysmans and Unruly Women by Gullickson.  Please contact the faculty and check moodle site after enrolling in order to be prepared for the first week in Winter.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 20107
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 20246

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.


Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 30106
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 30208

Go to my.evergreen.edu to register for this program.

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