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

Child of our Time: Order your free 'Becoming a Teenager' booklet Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

Education & Development 

Child of our Time: Order your free 'Becoming a Teenager' booklet

Order a free booklet exploring key aspects of childhood and teenage life.

Article
Theo's Adventure Capitalists: Brazil Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: via Wikimedia article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Theo's Adventure Capitalists: Brazil

Can three very different businesses turn plans into action? The Adventure Capitalists head for Brazil.

Article
Episode two: Real Storage Wars Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Episode two: Real Storage Wars

This is the story of how a multi-million pound industry was created to profit from our hoarding habits.

Article
DEBATE: Social Model of Disability Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com activity icon

TV, Radio & Events 

DEBATE: Social Model of Disability

What is the social model of disability? Does the social world exclude disabled people?

Activity
Rough Science 5 Zanzibar - Episode 6: Beneath the Waves Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Rough Science 5 Zanzibar - Episode 6: Beneath the Waves

A summary of the Beneath the Waves challenge, part of the fifth BBC/OU TV series Rough Science, based in Zanzibar

Article
Rough Science 6 Colorado: Mountain Video Diaries: Hermione Cockburn Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team video icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Rough Science 6 Colorado: Mountain Video Diaries: Hermione Cockburn

Exclusive video extra in which Hermione Cockburn talks about the challenge for the Mountain programme, from the sixth BBC/OU TV series Rough Science, based in Colorado

Video
5 mins
OU on the BBC: What The Industrial Revolution Did For Us - Series Summary Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: What The Industrial Revolution Did For Us - Series Summary

Discover more about BBC/OU's TV series on 'What the Industrial Revolution Did for Us'

Article
OU on the BBC: Paul O'Grady's Working Britain Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: Paul O'Grady's Working Britain

Whatever happened to the working class? Paul O’Grady goes on a very personal journey in this two-part BBC One series.

Article
Truth Will Out: Three score and ten - How long will I live? Creative commons image Icon Robert Scarth under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Truth Will Out: Three score and ten - How long will I live?

The Bible fixes our lifespan at 70 years. Science thinks we can do a lot better than that.

Article