Modern Romanticism 101 – A Guide
There are two main focuses here at The Silver Petticoat Review. One, Old-Fashioned Romance. And two, Romanticism. However, for this page, we’re going to focus on Modern Romanticism. A new movement we’ve created for today’s world. Our goal is to reignite the love and passion for wonderful imaginative stories. As well as promote a more creative way of living.
In short, we describe Modern Romanticism as storytelling (or a way of living your life) influenced by Romanticism and the Romantics. And while there was an aspect of “free love” and all-around bad behavior amongst some of the Romantics (we’re looking at you Percy Shelley and Lord Byron), we’re not focusing on that aspect as it doesn’t suit our site’s vision. Instead, we’ve taken some of the admirable aspects of the movement and put a modern spin on it.
Now while Modern Romanticism includes Romantic Living, for this guide, we’re only going to focus on the rules for storytelling/entertainment. We also choose to promote content without all the graphic sexuality, extreme violence, profanity, vulgarity, and cynicism – though certainly, you can find excellent examples of Modern Romanticism with explicit content (IE: Penny Dreadful). However, for our site, we’re looking for stories influenced by Romanticism with less explicit content.
Below, we include a detailed checklist and guide for Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat Style) in film, literature, theater, and television. As well as a checklist of what Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat Style) isn’t.
Beyond that, we include some examples to get you started in the world of Modern Romanticism. And then answer a few questions for clarification.
(There was inevitably some crossover with our Old-Fashioned Romance Guide.)
What is Romanticism & Modern Romanticism?
Before we can move on to the checklist, we first need to define what “Romanticism” is! As well as the difference between Romantic and romantic.
Romantic, with a capital R, means something very different to romantic or romance in general. Romantic with a capital R refers to the Romantic Period – better known as Romanticism (which is also different than romanticism).
Still, you may be scratching your head. What could possibly be the difference between Romanticism & romanticism? And what is the difference between Romantic & romantic?
According to the English Oxford Dictionary:
romanticism: The state or quality of being romantic.
Romanticism: A movement in the arts and literature which originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.
Now, let’s look at romantic vs Romantic. According to the English Oxford Dictionary:
1.1 (of a person) readily demonstrating feelings of love.
‘he’s very handsome, and so romantic’
1.2 Relating to love or to sexual relationships.
2 Of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality.
‘a romantic attitude toward the past’
Romantic: Relating to or denoting the artistic and literary movement of Romanticism.
‘the Romantic tradition’
Basically, when we mention Romantic or Romanticism, we are referring to the movement and the Romantics, not romance (as in stories only about romance, kisses, and flowers, or only including romantic qualities). However, Romanticism as a movement can be quite broad! So, we’ve decided to focus on the traits that fit the Silver Petticoat’s interpretation and ultimate creation of Modern Romanticism and our site’s focus.
And while you can read about the historical movement in more detail HERE, I’ve included a few distinct traits of Romanticism which also pertains (in part) to our definition of Modern Romanticism:
- Emphasis on Emotion, Feelings, and Intuition
- All about Passion – intense personal expression (artists expressing their beliefs)
- Emphasis on Individualism (IE: Jane Eyre)
- Love of Nature (L.M. Montgomery’s novels are wonderful examples as is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings), beauty, and the stars.
- Appreciation for Childhood
- Interest in the Common Man/Equality/Personal Freedom
- Importance of the Imagination and Creativity; elevates imagination above gritty realism
- Glorification of the Past/Interest in the Past/may include idealization of rural life (for our purposes, Modern Romanticism also includes our own interest in the past – so non-explicit, non-gritty period dramas).
- Optimism and Idealism
- May be mystical or include elements of the Divine. spirituality (IE: Emerson, Thoreau)
- May include fantastical and/or supernatural elements (Frankenstein)
- Might have mythological elements
- May show interest/influence from folklore and/or fairy tales
- Potentiality/Free Will/About the Characters and their Ability to Choose (and the consequences that come)
Gothic Novels and Byronic Heroes are often found in Romantic stories. And Jane Austen, as an example, belongs to the Romantic Period.
What then is the difference between (Classic) Romanticism and Modern Romanticism?
Romanticism Example 1:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Modern Romanticism Example 1:
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012). A vlog adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Romanticism Example 2:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Modern Romanticism Examples 2-3:
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Doctor Who TV Series
The difference is that Modern Romanticism is not “technically” part of the movement from the past and are rather stories from the recent past to present day influenced by the historical movement.
What then is Modern Romanticism as defined by The Silver Petticoat Review?
While we don’t necessarily follow the Romantic movement to exactness, as again it’s broad, much of what we do cover is steeped in or influenced by the imaginative, fantastical/supernatural, individualistic, rural (IE: country or small-town life), poetic elements of Romanticism (and especially Dark Romanticism).
The definition: Modern Romanticism includes stories from the recent past to present-day that are influenced by the artistic and literary movement from the 18th to 19th centuries.
That’s our definition and we’re running with it…(If you want to know more, make sure to check out our ABOUT!)
So, any stories published (or filmed) post-1960s to present day with a heavy Romantic influence would be considered Modern Romanticism. On the other hand, we categorize all stories from the actual Romantic Period up to the 1960s as Classic Romanticism. We also categorize stories pre-Romantic Period that influenced Romanticism as Classic Romanticism. IE: Shakespeare, the early Gothic novel, fairy tales, and folklore, etc.
Basically, Modern Romanticism includes elements of Romanticism with a Silver Petticoat twist. Whereas, Romanticism encompasses stories pre-Romantic Era, through the actual historical movement, to the 1960s.
So, here at The Silver Petticoat Review, we discuss old-fashioned romance (lowercase ‘r’) and Romance (with a capital ‘R’). We are the site of romance and Romance! Make sense?
Good, let’s move on to a checklist!
Modern Romanticism Checklist (Silver Petticoat Style):
This is not to say that every story has to include every one of these elements. Just that they should holistically include many of these checkpoints. We’re looking for an “overall” feel.
- Includes elements of Romanticism from the checklist above – a popular artistic movement from the 18th to 19th century.
- Realism is acceptable when presented as Romantic Realism or Romantic Naturalism (as in a story with “real” or “natural” problems but told in an imaginative, non-vulgar, elevated way). For example, Jane Austen novels or This is Us. And while realism can be acceptable, the inclusion of excessive profanity, violence, and explicit sexuality is typically absent.
- Explores the beauty of language. Think Gilmore Girls or The Hours. May have flowery/poetic language and descriptions.
- Written or Directed with an understanding of traditional storytelling. We’re looking for good storytellers as Romanticism was influenced by the roots of storytelling.
- Humor uses wit and/or intelligent physical comedy rather than crudeness or making fun of others.
- Intelligent dialogue
- Ignites the imagination
- Lacks vulgarity
- Three-dimensional characters. We’re not worried about stories being overly politically correct or modern. Rather, we worry more about the believability of a character. Usually, there’s a thematic purpose behind why a character is the way they are.
- Includes real emotion. A good story makes you feel something. From happiness to loneliness, hope, etc…
- May include archetypal elements of fairy tales, folklore, mythology, and/or oral storytelling.
- Elements of optimism and idealism; non-cynical in storytelling approach.
- Good often triumphs over evil in the end.
- Embraces Happily Ever After (HEA)
- Also embraces tragedy and good drama when told through a Romantic lens.
- Has something to say about the human condition. Read the classics. They all have something to say. From Anne of Green Gables to Jane Eyre to Pride and Prejudice and more.
- Some element of truth. If a story doesn’t resonate with us, what’s the point?
- Love stories should typically be old-fashioned in their approach. See our OLD-FASHIONED ROMANCE GUIDE 101 for a complete checklist.
It should be noted that while we love good, old-fashioned Romanticism, we’ve put a modern twist on it. We celebrate and appreciate equality and diversity. What we’re looking for is good writing using elevated language to express the writer’s truth rather than crass and explicit contemporary realism. We strive to include content that has PG-13 “like” content or below, minus a few exceptions for artistic merit and/or genre interest. However, these exceptions are made very selectively and depend on the overall “feel” of the story. That said, just because something is PG or PG-13 doesn’t mean we automatically cover it.
We also aim to find stories from all over the world because every culture has stories worth sharing.
What Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat Style) Isn’t:
- A story that doesn’t include elements of Romanticism (we’re not against stories without the Romantic influence – this is just what we cover)
- Explicit – Whether sexually or violently
- Includes unnecessary nudity in a non-artistic way
- Pornographic and/or promoting pornography
- Vulgar, Raunchy or Crude
- Gritty Realism
- Laced with profanity
- Objectification of Women; steeped in rape culture
- Written with an antagonistic attitude toward romance, stories with hope, etc.
- Cynical and unsentimental
- Lacking in human connection
- Focuses on pushing boundaries and the shock factor rather than on good storytelling.
- Subverting genres (there are exceptions, of course, where this works – but it has become overdone and is often just an attempt to subvert good storytelling in general simply for the sake of being original).
- Lacking in human truth
- Doesn’t have a thematic purpose; weak premise
- Doesn’t resonate with the audience
- Too focused on political correctness and paints people as stereotypes rather than as human beings; lacks empathy; (Storytelling shouldn’t be used as a device to judge others and divide cultures. Stories should bring people together and help us to understand our differences as well as our similarities.)
We should note, however, in relation to subverting genres that we’re okay with breaking rules and being original. Romanticism is all about original creativity after all. We also embrace genre mash-ups. What we’re not fans of is when writers purposefully try to undo archetypal truths in a cynical way. For example, taking the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale and adapting it into a story where they don’t end up together in the end. In that way, they undo the whole meaning of the tale (IE: transformation). And who wants to watch or read that?
And then when it comes to genres, while mashups and originality are fantastic, there are specific genres where certain types of endings are expected. If you’re doing a romantic comedy, the two characters should “most of the time” end up together with an HEA. Storytellers should know what type of story they’re telling. Not all romances have happily ever after (though most should) and that is fine but, again, storytellers should know their genre and/or genres. So, while we’re okay with rule-breaking, we feel it should be done carefully. And not in a way that’s simply meant to subvert genres a storyteller dislikes or doesn’t understand.
Additional Thoughts On Modern Romanticism
Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat style) should have a “positive,” perhaps even a “light” quality to it. Even in the saddest, loneliest of stories with elements of darkness, there should still be characteristics of hope and/or a message about the choices of the characters. With a good tragedy, there’s a purpose behind it. The story raises important questions about humanity and has significant artistic merit. However, it should not be presented in a way that includes explicit sexuality or excessive violence and profanity. Hence, our previous definition of “Romantic Realism.”
In all, Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat style) is about endurance and hope. When we finish a book or a film or a show, we want to walk away feeling uplifted, moved, inspired in some way. Not leave feeling heavy and irritated. We believe in the goodness of humanity and believe that same goodness should be represented in stories. Basically, we seek after stories that are exemplary and lovely!
However, this does not mean we don’t embrace “dark” stories. Gothic fiction, for example, is heavily influenced by Romanticism and is often quite dark. This is popularly called “Dark Romanticism” which we love and embrace.
Rather, Modern Romanticism (Silver Petticoat style) focuses more on “how” a story is told. Some of the most emotionally moving tales have dark, violent themes – though always with a clear thematic purpose. Or even some of the best literature of all time. But as long as the story is more implicit than explicit and is all about good Romantic storytelling, we’re interested. And, of course, as long as the story “mostly” fits into the checklist of Do’s and not the Don’ts.
Note: While we embrace all kinds of characters with numerous backgrounds and beliefs, we should be clear that we don’t promote racism, bigotry, abuse, etc. When these types of characters are presented, these traits are ideally shown as a flaw. There’s a difference between good storytelling with flawed characters and flat out propaganda that promotes negative behavior. However, we do believe in the transcendental power of stories and we embrace elements of transformation and redemption. That said, we are aware of cultural differences in stories and take that into account.
The Importance of Imagination
“Imagination cannot change reality, but it can change people, and those people can change the world.” – Scholar Who Walks the Night
Fairy tales, happily ever after endings, stories infused with hope, imagination, and optimism is often sneered at in today’s critical, cynical world. As a society, we often celebrate pornography, gruesome violence, rape as entertainment, shocking character deaths, stories so dark with no resolution, unlikable characters, lack of emotion, etc…as if the deeper we sink into the seedy parts of life and society, the more “artistic” it is.
Well, we’re tired of the overabundance of these types of stories. In fact, old-fashioned romance and traditional imaginative storytelling are becoming harder and harder to find.
However, we believe there are many people out there like us who long for these types of stories to be more prevalent. And here at The Silver Petticoat Review, we embrace them, talk about them, and promote them. On a happy note, there’re many fantastic stories out there just ready to be watched or read.
A great story, even if “unrealistic,” can change us, inspire us, and even make a difference. So, we celebrate the power of imagination and creativity – which you can find in Modern Romanticism.
A FEW EXAMPLES OF MODERN ROMANTICISM IN FILM, LITERATURE, & TV
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
- Possession by A.S. Byatt
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
- The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith
- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
- Finding Neverland
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- Life is Beautiful
- Star Wars films
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Amazing Grace
- The Hours
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Jane Eyre (2011)
- Ever After
- Downton Abbey
- Gilmore Girls
- Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
- The X- Files
- Doctor Who
- The Scholar Who Walks the Night
- Mr. Selfridge
- Monarch of the Glen
- Call the Midwife
- Lark Rise to Candleford
- Road to Avonlea
- The Indian Doctor
- The Originals
- Stranger Things
- Bleak House
- Emma (2009)
- A Place to Call Home (Romantic Realism example)
- The Doctor Blake Mysteries
- This is Us
This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a few examples!
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
What genres fit into Modern Romanticism?
Modern Romanticism can be a part of many genres though it’s often found in Genre, Period/Historical, and Literary Fiction (or the film equivalent).
What constitutes explicit content?
We like to think of it in the way of opposites. The opposite of explicit is implicit – meaning something’s implied rather than shown or described. Explicit means something’s graphically depicted without relying on imagination.
For example, someone steps into the tub to take a bath. We see headshots or leg shots rather than an entire nude person. It’s implied they’re nude but it was not explicitly shown.
Another example: Two characters kiss in a scene, and it becomes clear they’re going to have sex next. However, the scene cuts before we “see” anything. In the next scene, we cut to the two characters lying next to each other in bed. That is implicit, not explicit because it’s implied they slept together. If it were explicit, we would have seen the actual scene of the two characters sleeping together.
And then beyond that, there’re levels of “how” explicit a scene is.
On the other hand, while violence is necessary to some stories, one doesn’t need to become excessive in its depiction. IE: Purposely disturbing the audience with gore, explicit rape, etc…
On our site, we’re looking for sex and violence to typically be more implicit than explicit.
Is The Silver Petticoat Review a religious-themed site?
No. While we look to promote less explicit/vulgar content, we’re not a religious-themed site inclusive to only one religion or perspective. We want to promote good stories with Old-Fashioned Romance and/or Romanticism for every audience and for people of numerous backgrounds, religions, and cultures. We aim to have diversity.
However, that doesn’t mean we don’t include stories with religious themes. As long as the story includes old-fashioned romance and/or Romanticism within our genres of interest, we’re open to covering it. Stories can come from all faiths and/or the lack thereof. Basically, we’re on the lookout for good stories.
In all, we believe good storytelling unites people rather than separates them. It’s through stories we can learn to understand each other and embrace our differences. And we think that that positive outlook is part of what being a Modern Romantic is all about.
For more about what we cover on our site, see our ABOUT and our OLD-FASHIONED ROMANCE GUIDE 101 for answers to more questions! If you have any other questions about Modern Romanticism, please don’t hesitate to send us a message!
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