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Children in Romantic Literature and Thought

The figure of the child in romantic literature and thought provided a shift in understanding children and childhood at the end of the 18th century. The romantic period in England and Europe—broadly defined as a changing aesthetic in art, music, literature, architecture, and culture, reacting to the rigidity and rationalism of earlier movements, such as the Enlightenment and neoclassical period—spanned roughly the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries. Major characteristics of the romantic movement include a focus on the natural world, individual perception, spontaneity, creativity, sensibility, and the emotional over the rational. The figure of the child lies at the intersection of this changing aesthetic. This entry looks at (a) the romantic reimagining of the child and (b) the child as depicted in English Romantic poetry.

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