OU on the BBC: Romantics - Programme Summary - Liberty

Updated Thursday 8th December 2005

This programme in the BBC/OU's Romantics series explores the birth of the individual in modern society.

Character of Mary Shelley Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

The 18th century was a time of opulence and privilege for some. Europe was dominated by the twin authority of the Church and King - but beneath the surface, new forces were gathering to challenge their absolute rule.

The French philosopher, Denis Diderot insisted that men must reason for themselves. His friend, Jean-Jacques Rousseau claimed civilization had corrupted mankind - to free themselves, men must listen to their emotions.

Rousseau's writings gave birth to a hope for a new world of liberty, equality and fraternity. These ideas would fuel the greatest social upheaval in history - the French Revolution.

In Britain, these 'Romantic' ideals would burst into the public arena in art and poetry. William Blake's engravings and poetry were howls of revolutionary anger: Blake made the liberation of the human spirit his life's work.

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote one of the most powerful revolutionary works of the time; Lyrical Ballads. This volume of poetry was considered so dangerous that even as they composed, Wordsworth and Coleridge were being followed by government spies.

This was the greatest period of sustained creativity in English literature - at a time of revolutionary change in which poets had the power to remake the world in their own image.

First broadcast: Saturday 21 Jan 2006 on BBC TWO

Romantics in more depth:

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Paul O'Grady's Working Britain: Order your free copy of 'A journal of working class life' Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Paul O'Grady's Working Britain: Order your free copy of 'A journal of working class life'

Order a free booklet exploring different aspects of working class life in Britain through the years.

Article
OU on the BBC: Romantics - About the series Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Romantics - About the series

Find out more about the BBC/OU's television series looking at the Romantic movement in history, presented by historical writer Peter Ackroyd.

Article
The Hairy Bikers: Bakeation - Eastern Europe Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

The Hairy Bikers: Bakeation - Eastern Europe

Two Hairy Bikers. Three European countries. And lots and lots of baked delights.

Article
Protecting Our Children: Video insights 1 - 3 Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University video icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Protecting Our Children: Video insights 1 - 3

Communication, planning and supervision.

Video
10 mins
OU on the BBC: The Fantastic Mr Feynman Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: With kind permission of the Feynman family article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: The Fantastic Mr Feynman

A new documentary on Richard Feynman delves into the BBC's extensive archives to use the words of the man himself, his admirers, and those who knew him best

Article
Rough Science 6 Colorado: Video extras menu Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Rough Science 6 Colorado: Video extras menu

Watch these video extras to see the science we couldn't fit into the programmes.

Article
The Secret Life of Books: The episodes Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

The Secret Life of Books: The episodes

Lose yourself in the plot of each episode from the BBC Four series The Secret Life of Books.

Article
The Secret History Of Our Streets - Caledonian Road Creative commons image Icon Stephen McKay under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

The Secret History Of Our Streets - Caledonian Road

Booth may have found the road depressing - but a staunch sense of community has kept the road alive.

Article
What The Industrial Revolution Did For Us - Programme 3 - On the Move Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

What The Industrial Revolution Did For Us - Programme 3 - On the Move

Find out more about the On the Move programme, part of the BBC/OU's 'What the Industrial Revolution Did for Us' TV series.

Article