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Module 1: Aesthetics in Romantic Poetry

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The two key aesthetic strategies of the Romantic period are Sublime and Picturesque aesthetics.
Edmund Burke’s "A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful" is a major treatise that popularised the theory of the Sublime.
The Sublime is an aesthetic of fear, awe and wonder generated at the sight of things.
The Picturesque is in sharp contrast to the sublime as it is primarily about a peaceful landscape, but one which had a very clear controlling authority.
According to critics, aesthetics have very clear politics that are central to social relations, gender relations and questions of power.
The politics of Sublime, as Patricia Yeager, Neil Hertz and several critics and commentators have pointed out, was that it was effectively a masculine aesthetic.
The French artist, Claude Lorraine’s work contributed immensely to the theory of the Picturesque; the other important painter is John Constable.
Wordsworth employed both the sublime and the picturesque, sometimes in the same poem.
The Sublime is about vitality, dynamism and energy in Blake, not the frozen-to-the-spot astonishment of Burke’s Sublime.
Shelley’s Sublime actually exists in the poet’s mind.