Skip to content Skip to navigation

Why Romanticism Was A Good Idea

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Michael Ferber
Why Romanticism Was A Good Idea

William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Percy Shelley—to name a few—are all authors considered to have worked in the Romantic style. However, some literary scholars have connected Jane Austen, the Brontës, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Edgar Allen Poe to this artistic, spiritual, and intellectual movement. Not surprisingly, all of these authors are well represented within the Athenæum’s collection. This event is an opportunity to learn about the movement that influenced so many of our most beloved writers.

Though many of us admire the great works of Romantic poetry, music, and painting, the ideas of the Romantics may seem juvenile, sloppy, escapist, or even dangerous, and the very word “romantic” is often an insult. Michael Ferber will offer a brief defense of Romantic ideas and intuitions about nature, religion, politics, and the self. Romanticism is here to stay, and it’s not all bad.

Michael Ferber earned a BA in Greek literature from Swarthmore College and a PhD in English literature from Harvard. He taught English at Yale, then worked as a lobbyist and writer about nuclear disarmament in Washington. Ferber has written five books about Romanticism and edited two, as well as A Dictionary of Literary Symbolsand about fifty article and reviews. He has also translated some sixty Romantic-era poems from French, German, and Italian. His own works have been, or will be, translated into five languages. He has recently finished a book called Poetic Fame,which surveys the history of the fame of poets from Homer to rappers.

Assistive Listening Devices image

Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

ASL Interpretation image

To request ASL interpretation services for any of the Athenaeum's programs, please contact Hannah Weisman at 617-720-7617 or