Eros, Kinship, Culture

Term: Fall 2008

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5525

This course will consider various ways in which love, or eros, has been regarded as incompatible with, yet always born from, the context of social, civic or political life. We will read some key texts in philosophy and social theory that treat this problem, from Plato and Hegel to Freud, Levi-Strauss, Foucault and others -- but we will also follow as our guiding model the most significant poetic-literary treatment of the problem: the myth of Romeo and Juliet, from Ovid through Shakespeare and beyond. The story of Romeo and Juliet might allow us to rethink two questions that continue to resonate at the edges of contemporary social theory: 1) What are the conditions for a desired, livable human attachment without the cooperation and mediation of family, society, culture, or at least a shared language or sense of history? 2) Why should the fate of such an attachment be pre-dominantly represented as tragic; and might it be figured � indeed, lived -- in any other way?

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