Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Romanticism Still the same today or different?

When you google romanticism they define it as a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primary of the individual. Romanticism has influenced history because it was a major international movement that helped influence and shape modern views of literature, music, as well as art. Romanticism has definitely changed over time, romanticism in the 1800s is not the same as it is today.

One thing I would like to particularly focus on is the change of art over the years. In the 1800s, romanticism was popular within art. Romanticism in the form of art was mostly paintings. The inspirations of paintings came from nature around them. Besides nature, they also received their inspiration from the bible, mythological, as well as supernatural subjects. Besides focusing on these subjects, romantic artist used radiant vibrant colors and enjoyed playing with shapes and curving lines.

Today, romantic artist our still relevant and creating more in depth pieces of art. Today's artist are able to use more inspirations around them. With this inspiration they can create more diverse in depth pieces using of art using different forms of brushing techniques and different shapes.

I truly do believe that romanticism is still alive today. I believe that the basic principles of romanticism have been lost but it is definitely still alive and in full effect today.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Recently while scrolling through the channels I stumbled across an old movie, a classic in some peoples eyes. This movie, Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), details how Steve Martin and a group of scientists are able to stop Godzilla from destroying Japan and show Godzilla's eventual death. I only watched about half an hour of the movie, but in these thirty minutes, two things dawned on me. The striking racial stereotypes of the Japanese people, and that I had forgotten to do my orientalism blog post. Now, to kill two birds with one stone, I will explain several of the racist depictions I viewed in.... Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

Throughout my half hour viewing experience, the most prominent example of orientalism was the depiction of everyday life. Every single Japanese person, excluding the scientist, was dressed as a farmer. With the large circular hat, shovels, and an overall dirty appearance. In one scene, the Japanese people plan an attack on Godzilla to scare him away. To no surprise, many of the people came out dressed like samurai, wielding katanas. This depiction of so-called everyday Japanese life perpetuates the stereotype that the Japanese people are all katana-wielding, samurai-dressed farmers. The doctors and scientists seen throughout the movie all appeared to be much more sophisticated than the common. They were seen running around battle scenes with white lab coats, and directing the people around. This, as well as the samurai scenario, are continuing examples of orientalism.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Middle Eastern and Asian culture, much like other cultures that we aren't naturally exposed to, are taught to us in the most basic and stereotypical ways through the media and brief interactions that we might have. Seldom do we immerse ourselves in the lifestyles and cultures of people different than us, so we take the easy information, rather than seeking legitimate and intelligent information. Edward Said says this in his description of the term Orientalism. Orientalism is Western Cultures prejudice interpretation of the East. 

One of the many ways that we find ourselves educated on Asian and Middle Eastern cultures are through movies. A large part of the problem is that as people without exposure to real Eastern culture, and especially young people, movies that offer some sort of an explanation through entertainment often leave a deeper message. So when a young person is watching Aladdin, for example, it becomes more than just entertainment because it's often their only exposure, and they minds are so impressionable. By creating a place in Aladdin or in other movies like Mulan or Doctor Strange that is mystical, and in some cases barbaric, it becomes the only image that people have for the Eastern world at all.

What's even worse, is that this is not something as Westerners that we do exclusively to people who are halfway around the world. We are exposed to a limited and unfair interpretations of the culture and lives of different people who live in our country, states, and even communities. Our worlds are limited by the labels that we have associated with us because of our physical characteristics. These limitations then prevent us from reaching out and exploring the differences between us all, and keep us bound to the appearances that people can see from the outside. It's something that we do not do just along Western and Eastern culture, but race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion in our own neighborhoods.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Orientalism in media

Orientalism is something that is rarely discussed outside of academia and yet is pervasive in Western society. Though most parents don't typically outright say to their children things like "Asian cultures, specifically West Asian cultures, are strange, mystical, and exotic, and you should not trust Middle Eastern men because they are scheming and unintelligent," people are still exposed to this mindset from a very young age. The source of that exposure is, of course, the media.

One of the most infamous examples of Orientalism in modern-day culture is the movie Aladdin. This movie is a favorite among younger children, but is an obvious example of the stereotypes surrounding the Middle East in movies. There are many more examples of movies about the Middle East or East Asia which clearly portray harmful stereotypes about them, but possibly the main source behind the pervasiveness of Orientalism is more subtle. Think of practically any sci-fi movie. There are likely several fictional cultures in this movie, and it is also likely that one or more of them are logical, behave in familiar or relatable ways, and look just like the generic idea of a Star Trek-esque future. But there is also likely another culture. This one is mystical, easily overpowered, lacking in technological advancements, and, most importantly, exotic. Their clothes, fashion, and even speech do not look or sound generic or even familiar, and the parts featuring this group of people are often the most beautiful parts of the movie. However, this imaginary culture is not actually original or even made up: it is almost always simply based on ideas of Asia.

Though there is nothing wrong with respectfully taking artistic inspiration from other cultures, it is pretty self-explanatory why portraying vaguely Asian cultures almost exclusively as literal aliens is problematic. The problem is, the creators of these movies likely don't know what they're doing: they actually believe, subconsciously or not, that Asian cultures are mystical, incomprehensible, and alien. And by seeing aspects of those cultures portrayed as such over and over, the general public begins to have the same idea ingrained in their minds, reinforcing Orientalism once again.

Romanticism in Fantasy Art

Though the Romantic movement in art has had a lasting, permanent effect on art and how we see it, the specific visual style developed during that period is, for the most part, no longer in use. This is especially true in "high art," which is currently in the post-modern era, where most highly respected art has long moved on from any kind of naturalized depictions, imaginary or no. However, the romantic art style has been carried on in one unexpected area: fantasy art.

By "fantasy art," I mean high fantasy art. The illustrations found everywhere from Dungeons and Dragons guide books to concept art for popular video games and movies. This, by some, could be considered the "lowest" level of art; it exists purely to be visually appealing and entertaining and carries no significance or meaning. It is ironic, then, that it uses nearly the exact same style as Romantic art: expressive, action-packed compositions; dynamic, colorful, but chiaroscuro-filled lighting; and dreamlike or even violent images of triumph and defeat. However, philosophically speaking, these art movements seem to have nothing in common. The Romantic movement was a revolution of ideology where thinkers for the first time began to find meaning in not only religion and tradition, but in themselves and the world around them. So why has this revolutionary style been transferred to such an unimportant, un-intellectual genre?

Perhaps this similarity is a hint that fantasy art, along with every other "low" art genre, should not be so easily overlooked. An image of a knight hurling fireballs at a mountain-sized monster may not contain many new or mind-blowing ideas, but the fact that this art is so popular and intriguing shows what is important or universal to humanity: triumph, power, and the perseverance of good against evil. The truth is, Romantic art was the first time that artists began to discuss what they themselves found important, and fantasy art is simply doing the same thing. And sometimes, what's important is beating up some giants with a magic sword.

(Here's the piece by Tyler Jacobson that was used on the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook)

(And here's "The Colossus" by Francisco Goya, a famous Romantic painter)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Are People Romantic about Romanticism?

It’s tough for me to translate romanticism, a movement that was tough to define even at its birth in the 18th century, to modern day. I feel certain components of romanticism, a sense of independence for example, carry over, while others, like authenticity and emotion, don’t. Sure, strong emotions and aesthetics are still present in society, but I don’t think they’re as celebrated or respected as Romanticism demands.

We as a society are desensitized. Terrible news is now the norm, beautiful mountains are a google search away, and human interaction is a fraction of what it use to be. Much of what Romantics considered integral to appreciating the human experience is gone. Still, that doesn’t make technology inherently bad. Romanticism was an idea spawned centuries ago, and there’s no real reason that it should still be around today. Values and characteristics of Romanticism manifest themselves in lots of modern day culture.

Technology both pushes and pulls at the human condition. Phones, video games, and TV can certainly inhibit interaction, but they also can contribute to the celebration of life and culture. Likewise, lots of innovative tech companies strive for good. Companies like Tesla have begun to revolutionize the industry with their Earthly and human values. Sure, Romanticism as an idea and philosophy may be dead, but who’s to say that we’re not moving towards something better.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Social Media v.s Romanticism

Social Media and television has become a huge factor of the development of this generation and how we live our daily lives. Social networks has become one of the most popular sources of communicating and forces us to interact behind screen, which is obviously not the most romantic thing to do. Dating websites like or Tinder, is a popular way for people to start off meeting and is an easy way to have sexual relations. These websites and websites similar to this has forced people to believe that this is the easiest way to make a romantic connection. Romanticism in the 18th century has completely changed from what it is now in the 21st century. The media sets a unrealistic tone for how relationships should be and romanticism in general. We chose to express our feelings with tweets and posts, instead of approaching a person head on. This is a video that explains the problem clearly.

Monday, April 23, 2018


When it comes to Romanticism I think that it is still very important and influential but I also think that it has changed somewhat. The idea of Romanticism was self expression and individualism but in a way it was also a response to what was going on around you. I guess I am arguing that that the idea of Romanticism has not changed but the substance and way about expressing it has. Now we have many different outlets for self expression that we have not had in the past like social media, music, youtube, and fashion just to name a couple. So the individualism and expression has not been altered but how we go about it has and that has to do with technology and evolution of our society as a whole. In my opinion Romanticism is and forever will be relevant but the way of going about it will always be evolving.


Romanticism is still alive. Romanticism, as I understand it, was a time in history when poets and writers were writing with the themes of sorrow, joy, and other powerful emotions. I think these themes are more entrenched in our society than they have ever been. More than ever, people are feeling their feelings and broadcasting them to the entire world. If you look at the evolution of social media, there is no better place for people to express their emotions and for it travel to people in all walks of life. You can feel angry, and you’re not bound to the restrictions of poetry. Emotions can be conveyed in images and video. Technology and social media have given light to the romanticism in everyone, not just those who are adept in writing and words. However, the argument can be made that often the emotions represented through snapchat or instagram are very surface level and momentary. People are often showing their temporary feelings, rather than the deep emotions that we are unwilling to surrender to the public. This is valid and probably true, but it doesn’t take away from the ability and the accessibility that technology has made towards to our emotions. Whether people really want to reveal themselves or not is up to them. But the option is still there which is why I believe romanticism is truly alive.


I think that Romanticism is still very alive today, and that the ideas of Romanticism have become ingrained in our society. For example, most of today's art is focused on self exploration and discovery, which stems from the Romantic idea that it is okay to create art about your own personal experiences. A call to return to the natural world is also still a prevalent idea in our society. The movie Avatar is a good example of modern day Romanticism because the movie is about how people should appreciate and coexist with nature, instead of destroying it. The main character finds himself as he is immersed in the natural world, and realizes how important it is for people to be connected with it. This is definitely a very Romantic theme, but with a modern addition to it- technology. In today's society, the idea of returning to the natural world has developed into a call to return to a time with less technology and more visceral interaction with the world.

It's Not That Serious

I'm not a romantic. In the way that it is thought of in literature, and the characterization that we studied about in class, I don't believe that characterizes me at all. From what I've gathered, the romantic period and the idea of being a romantic is the strong connection to your feeling and emotions. However, we all feel and we all have emotions, as we are human. So personally, I think romanticism and being a romantic is to be overcome with the emotions that it leads to its expression. That's just not the person that I am. I feel as though being overcome with emotion to the point were you feel the need to physically and visibly express them that often is unnecessary. Pause. I'm not here saying that showing emotion or being emotional is a bad thing. What I'm saying is often we take things more personally or seriously than they often need to be, and it creates unnecessary hurt or pain. There aren't many things in life that require all the attachment that comes with powerful emotions. The majority of life is not that permanent. Things can be changed, old people leave, and new people arrive all the time. You never know what could be around the corner. Take it with a grain of salt, and keep it pushing. I'm not a romantic because it's never that serious.

The Reawakening of the National Parks System

Romanticism is a quality which can be found in architecture, art, music, and poetry. And although the climax of the romantic movement was during the 18th and 19th century there are re-occurrence of the movement's fervor and beauty in various aspects of modern culture. One prime example of this fervor is the centennial of the national park system.

In 2016 the national park system experienced its centennial, and they advertised it. Special programs took place at each of the parks and "limited addition" national park gear was available at most outdoor recreation stores. These forms of advertisement accounted for a large part of the revival of interest in both the national parks and nature in general. However, I believe the aspect of the centennial which had the greatest impact on the American public was the old WPA (Works Projects Administration) posters from the great depression era shown below.

The romantic movement is all about finding beauty in the simplicity of nature, which is exactly what the WPA posters accomplish. The posters are minimal, using only 3 or 4 colors, yet stunning as they depict some of the grandest vistas of North America. The fact that these posters were such a huge hit during the centennial of the NPS demonstrates how romantic modern society continues to be. Additionally from 2015 to 2016 the number of annual visitors increased by nearly 30,000 people, roughly twice the average growth rate for our national parks ( This statistic further demonstrates how much a romantic movement, such as the reuse of WPA posters impacts individuals and encourages the American public to return to nature.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Dances with Orientalism

The word 'orientalism' is traditionally used when describing attributes or artifacts of Asia and the Middle East, especially in a stereotypical manner which embodies colonial attitudes - hence, where it got it's name. However this word can be expanded to include other peoples that have been similarly portrayed through the colonial lens, including African and Aboriginal Australian and Native American cultures. Specific examples of orientalist views of Native Americans are dotted through out American history from the classic Billy the Kid to HBO's Westworld. Although we now recognize these aspects of American culture as being wrong or offensive, they continued to be overlooked in our current society.

Dances with Wolves is an Oscar-winning, Americana movie from 1991 about a civil war soldier's, Lieutenant Dunbar, relationship with a local Lakota tribe. The film synopsis claims that Dunbar is, "Attracted by the simplicity of their [the Lakota tribe] lifestyle, he chooses to leave his former life behind to be with them." This quote exemplifies how non western cultures are portrayed as simple or inferior in western pop-culture. 

Additionally Dunbar falls in love with the a white woman who was raised in the tribe. Having the white Lieutenant Dunbar marry the only white woman in the movie demonstrates how even though native american culture may seem interesting to take part in, it is still not respectable enough to marry into. Instead of binding the two cultures together as it was meant to, this marriage furthers the dichotomy between the two cultures. This plot point is an example of how colonialism continues to impact western culture.


The term Romanticism refers to the period in history in which a movement changed the perceptions of Western people. Romanticism was originally an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in the 18th century in Europe. This movement hit its peak from 1800-1850. This period of time is referred to as the Romantic Period. Friedrich Schlegel, a German poet, is credited for originally using the term romantic to describe literature. This movement emphasized personal emotion, imagination, and freedom. Romanticism also appreciates the beauty of nature and the world in general. By the 1820's, Romanticism had broadened to embrace the literatures of almost all of Europe. During the second phase of Romanticism the movement was more concentrated on exploring each country's historical and cultural inheritance and attempting to understand the passions and struggles of each individual person. 

Musical Romanticism was known for emphasizing originality and creativity in the form of music, mainly classical music. Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert bridged the gap between the Classical and Romantic periods. Music played a huge role in the Romantic period because music can be expressed and read by those who can understand music but was harder for those who didn't understand music the same way. 


Has Romanticism changed since its beginning? Modern day romanticism vs the original has changed in my opinion, not only by how it is portrayed but the definition of it itself. Romanticism came into place in the late seventeen hundreds and originally was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe. It was the reaction to current events such as the Industrial Revolution and other things such as social norms at the time. It was used to portray emotions as stories.
Although his was how Romanticism was used during this time, today it is different. Today, it is more geared toward individualism and ego centrism rather than multiple. Although it is still influenced by art, literature, and intellect, its form is different. Due to modern advancements, technological and others, romanticism is shown in different ways than it used to be. Altogether, Romanticism is still used to show emotion through stories simply in different forms than how it was historically displayed.


Sorry for interrupting the flow of Romanticism, but better late than never.

My mom teaches a course in Russian history at UIC, and at the start of every semester she asks her students to write down the first words that come to mind when they think of Russia. The most common answers include Siberia, vodka, bears, snow, and Stalin - stereotypes that date back to the Cold War and illustrate the orientalist image of Russia in American culture.

Throughout the 20th century, Soviet Russia has been the number-one “Other” to the US (and vice versa). In the true spirit of Orientalism, it was seen as savage, mysterious, and menacing. Some groups of the American society saw it as the empire of pure evil, some as a perfectly just and benevolent utopia, some simply as a distant and exotic fairyland. Though these approaches seem contradictory, they could easily coexist in the collective psyche, because all of them reduced Russia to an antipode of the Western world.

It’s interesting to see that this perception of Russia remains mostly the same today. The images of exotic Siberian landscapes and bears roaming the streets of Moscow still manage to coexist with the fear of superior technology and all-powerful hackers.

Modern Romanticism?

Romanticism is rarely seen in today's culture, and it could be argued that it is nonexistent. Whether it be today's movies, music, or television shows, the ideals of Romanticism are rarely seen anymore. The current forms of media represent the opposite of the ideals of Romanticism: collectivism, technological advances, and a lack of liberty. The 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were able to value and motivate the values of Romanticism, while the 20th century allowed these customs to fall. The 21st century is barely cognizant of Romanticism and this is evident in today’s culture. Elements of individualism, innovation, and imagination fueled the era and they are what our current day lacks the most.

The symphonies, poems, and ballads have been replaced by technology and multimedia, which are typically pointless activities. Occasionally, movies or books will represent elements of Romanticism, but they are merely shown in terms of the time period, without advancing the era. This new tech crazed era would rather pass off other people’s work as their own, rather than put in their own hard work. The lack of ingenuity and motivation of people today is astonishing, and one of the largest setbacks of today. Technology and media are resourceful tools that are used as large distractions to hold back innovation. Many people use these tools wisely, but even more use them for fun or in time consuming activities.

Since Romanticism is so underrepresented, any pieces of Romanticism fail to express the elements in a productive and informative way. Every person is a Romantic in part, but in our current society it is difficult to see. If we could separate ourselves from the technology and countless other distractions that get in the way of our learning, we can experience our Romantic sides. Our Romantic sides, are what allow us to innovate and create what we find important or worthwhile. Our creations can be our biggest achievements. If Romanticism was better represented, it would be easier to include it in today’s culture. If Romanticism were truly alive today, we wouldn't have to ask the question, because it would be well represented in society and that is what makes it important.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Magic in Romanticism

Qualities and traits of romanticism from the 17th and 18th century such as a deepened appreciation of the beauty of nature, general preference of emotion over reason and the importance of sense over intellect is still strong in American culture today. The romantics preoccupation with the genius, the hero and the exceptional figures in general, while focusing on inner struggles can be found in many aspects of today’s pop culture. A focus on the individual and imagination that is at the center of the romantic movement, is a prevalent trait in many artistic works today.

In the Harry Potter Series, we see many examples of heroism and genius and individuals struggling to come to terms with their inner selves. Harry himself, split at birth by the wicked spell of “He That Shall Not Be Named” is full of wonder and amazement as he attempts to patch the tear within. Ordinary kids turned super-heroes, Harry, Ron and Hermione fight the depths of darkness using emotions and a heightened sense of what could be to guide them. The series has so many characters that stretch our imagination and continually manage to go beyond the ordinary. There is no shortage of natural beauty in Harry Potter both as described in the books and as shown in the movies on the big screen. Even though the story is about a group of kids and adults marching towards a final showdown as a group against evil - it is very clear along the way that the main characters are very strong individuals that are continually forced to look within and overcome significant doubts.

The focus on emotion, personal growth and super heroes is a main theme in the Harry Potter series making it a pop romantic classic. The genius of Dumbledore throughout the series and Harry’s transcendence of death that occurs in the final chapters are examples of Romanticism. The popularity of the series speaks to a hunger in today’s society for heroism and a power that can outwit evil and darkness. In the end, we all want to see Harry and friends prevail and find peace and happiness after their long journey to be free to live their lives without the darkness of Voldemort and his followers.

Love Sucks (And How Romanticism Ruined It For Us All)

Ah, relationship woes. We've all been there and done that (well, most of us). Sometimes we lose our romantic relationships due to the passion fizzling out, not fully understanding each other, or even (gasp!) having feelings for someone else. Thankfully, many of our modern problems in romantic relationships aren't actually our fault, but rather reflect the failing of a cultural facet that we call Romanticism.

To reiterate what you may already know, Romanticism is an artistic and intellectual movement that came about in the late 18th century as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, and the demystification of nature by means of science; basically, world was turning towards rationality and abandoning aesthetic expression and spontaneity. Thus, the great Romantic poets came to the rescue, and greatly popularized the glorification of individualism, emotion, and natural beauty. So much, in fact, that we still can't seem to scrub these Romantic ideals today.

Let's envision what the pre-Romantic marriage relationship may have looked like. A man and a woman may have chosen to elope for the receiving of a dowry, or because the bride's father holds significant social status, or because the two are very well aligned in their interpretation of Biblical texts. These non-love marriages did not often result in happiness (instead, there was often abuse, rape, and other catastrophes), since their purpose was mostly practical... and we know how Romantics feel about practicality. So the Romantics rallied against these ideal in exchange for other new catastrophes.

The ideals that the Romantics were proponents of are ones that still captivate us today, such as deep, long-lasting passion! Intuitively understanding each other's souls! Sex as the ultimate profession of true love! Practicalities should never get in the way! Reckless love was seen as one that people should strive for, since that meant it was driven by the raw power of attraction and soul-alignedness and intuitive-understandingness. A relationship where, say, it lasts three days and it's between two teenagers. And they almost get married! But then they both kill themselves and four other people die... but it's because they love each other that damn much. Instead of being appalled by that relationship, we find it oh-so beautiful and romantic. (Wasn't there a book like that or something?)

Beautiful, yes, but not very psychologically mature. This Romantic pressure to maintain a "spark" with someone for years on end, to understand them without needing to ask, and to be guided solely by our feelings hangs heavy over our heads, and frequently skews our expectations of how a relationship should realistically be. When we can't meet these standards, we feel confused, as though we have somehow failed at love. Yet, this could not be further from the truth! The building blocks of a Romantic romantic relationship sound flowery and nice, but can't build a sustainable foundation.

So listen, guys. Communication is important. Nobody can truly "understand" someone unless they ask. It's OK (and probably encouraged) to take into consideration factors such as money, religious beliefs, life goals, etc. when choosing a partner, and even discuss them right off the bat. And, as much as our juicy, poetic feelings of love may dictate us otherwise, you should acknowledge that your partner is not perfect (and neither are you). Realistic standards will pave the path towards a more hopeful future for love.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Your Own Unique World

One tenant of Romanticism is individualism. One can embrace individualism by looking inwards for authority and decisiveness rather than relying on the authority of government or religious figures. Another way to embrace individualism lies in recognizing the unique quality of one's own world view. Each of us are the centers of our own realities, and therefore each of our realities is slightly different from the person next to us. While acknowledging our reality as unique seems fairly obvious, staying aware of that fact everyday and every minute is hard. But once accomplished, it can lead to a truly Romantic life.

As a society, we tend to praise those things that are unique because originality implies a particular type of beauty - beauty in knowledge that an object or idea cannot be experienced anywhere else.
If we can internalize that we view everything - literally everything - through a personalized lens, then perhaps it is possible to acknowledge our daily lives as unique and beautiful. Not just vast landscapes and exotic wildlife are beautiful on a hike through the great Midwest, but also the awareness that I'm the only person in the world to see the horizon the exact way I do. In the same way, we all see something that we call the color blue. However, that wavelength looks slightly different to each person, though we may not know it.

To me, practicing Romanticism in our lives means finding beauty in those things that are unconventional. Ordinary things, while not unconventional, are too often overlooked for qualities of beauty. It's time that we gazed a little longer at that chair in Mr. Heidkamp's class, focus a little more on the feeling of the concrete against our shoes, and appreciate the gray windowsills throughout the building. Though these things may not stimulate our senses, they are uniquely seen by all of us. That fact alone, should give them a beauty we don't recognize enough.