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Title:Gothic Views, Romantic Visions: The Spatial Dynamics of Modern Art and Literature
Author(s):Kostelnick, Charles John
Department / Program:Comparative and World Literature
Discipline:Comparative and World Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Comparative
Abstract:It is widely accepted that the revival of Gothic architecture in England during the eighteenth century, which gradually spread to France and Germany, was one of several touchstones for the transformation of taste which preceded the Romantic movement in literature and the visual arts. The purpose of this study is not only to examine the aesthetic concepts of the Gothic Revival--in architecture, literature, and landscape gardening--but to explore how these concepts were further nurtured by several Romantic authors, assimilated into their overall program for literature and art, and ultimately became the vehicles, for the Romantics and their successors, for defining more universal themes such as the relationship between man and society and the function of art and poetry in modern culture. To a large extent there was a mutually beneficial exchange, indeed a symbiosis, between the spatial and visual principles of the Gothic Revival and the aesthetics and values of Romanticism. This cross-fertilization occurs in four key areas--the spontaneous expression of emotion, the direct contact with nature, the primacy of the imagination, and the transcendent value of poetic and artistic creation--and these four elements, indispensable to the Romantic vision, form the basic organizational structure of the dissertation.
Chapter I examines how the expression of emotion is cultivated by the early Gothic Revival through the arousal of sentiment and terror in the setting of the picturesque garden, the Gothic mood poems, and the Gothic novel and how this is further developed by Wordsworth (particularly in Peter Bell), and secondarily by Coleridge, Tieck, and Hoffmann, in the spatial matrix of what I call the romantic "topos of terror" to create an emotional epiphany, a moment of self-discovery, which effects a profound metamorphosis in the individual.
Chapter II explores the gradual association of nature and the primitive culture of the forest with the Gothic form, the role of Goethe and Chateaubriand in articulating the Gothic life-tree of art and culture, and the significance this has for the Romantic idea of indigenous art and poetry and ultimately for an organic concept of society, as evidenced in Novalis and Carlyle.
Chapter III traces the origin of the "philosophy of the imperfect," how the variety and irregularity of the Gothic form become a touchstone for the Romantic imagination in authors such as Coleridge, Friedrich Schlegel, and Victor Hugo, and eventually how imperfection becomes the cornerstone for Ruskin's program to reunify art and society by liberating the imagination of the workman.
Chapter IV delineates the relationship between the spatial infinitude of the Gothic cathedral and the transcendence and inner vision that accompany the creation of Romantic poetry and art, and ultimately how the Sehnsucht nach dem Unendlichen of the Gothic is conveyed visually by the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich and in a historical and cultural context by Oswald Spengler.
For the Romantics the Gothic was more than just a view, as it had been in the early Gothic Revival in the measured arrangement of objects in space to stimulate the senses; it became the medium for a deeper, more comprehensive vision--of themselves and their aesthetic goals, and of the broader relationship between art and culture, between self and society. This movement from view to vision characterizes the development of each of the four concepts under consideration. In each case the view provides the spatial and visual orientation--the structural framework, the shell--and the Romantic vision breathes life into this structure and animates it with the lifeblood of deeper, more universal human issues.
Issue Date:1981
Description:434 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127624
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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