Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Languages, Literatures and Cultures

First Advisor

Nicholas Vazsonyi


This thesis is an analysis of dark German Romanticism and its connection to the postpunk ethos in rock music. The music is dark and Romantic because of the artists’ reach beyond finite limits to attain Romantic ideals. The postpunk artists explored, Ian Curtis of Joy Division, Robert Smith of The Cure, and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, present solipsistic lyrics relating to nineteenth century works by German writers Novalis, E.T.A. Hoffman, Heinrich Heine and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The spirit of dark German Romanticism dwells within the postpunk ethos adhered to by Curtis, Smith and Corgan, with each of them expressing disillusion, melancholy and angst in longing for the extraordinary dream. Each of them fixates upon Romantic ideals stretching beyond the possibility of measurable achievement. Discarding their disillusioned realities for infinite ideals brings these artists face to face with existential despair, and they each face destructive consequence for venturing too far in their pursuits. With their Romantic ideals becoming the all-consuming desire of their minds, they turn to artistic expression in rock as a platform to express their angst-laden yearnings and despairs. In adhering to a postpunk ethos of self-expression, authenticity, solipsism and visionary prowess, Ian Curtis, Robert Smith and Billy Corgan exemplify Dark German Romanticism as a transcendent, progressive and modern force stretching into rock music of the twentieth century.


© 2020, Logan Jansen Hunter