From Enlightenment to Romanticism

Ref: C2423102

The eighteenth century is seen as the age of reason, when rationality and scepticism triumphed over superstition and bigotry, but by the end of the century new ways of thinking recognised the power of the emotional and the irrational. Perceptions of scenery were transformed, so that landscapes that were previously seen as uncouth were now judged to be 'sublime'. Switzerland, the Lake District and Scottish Highlands became tourist magnets. The cult of sensibility prioritised the emotions and contributed to the campaign for the abolition of the slave trade. Literature was fascinated with transgressive acts such as Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles and Frankenstein's creation of his monster. The novels of Walter Scott transformed perceptions of the past, and the huge canvasses of Delacroix and Géricault brought the sublime into the world of art.

Course aim

to assess the intellectual and cultural changes that took place at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • understand the main features of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and recognise some the complexities involved in the term.
  • recognise the changed attitude to scenery and the natural world.
  • understand the importance of the cult of sensibility in literature and in humanitarian campaigns.
  • understand the concepts of the 'sublime’ and the ‘heroic’.
  • assess the importance of the cultural achievements of the age.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

From Enlightenment to Romanticism

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is only available as part of this programme.


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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