Love in the Western World

Term: Fall 2010

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5533

In 1940, the French scholar Denis de Rougement published his monumental study Love in the Western World, based on a detailed analysis of the Tristan myth. With this text as background, we will survey a wider terrain, starting with the ancient distinction between Eros and Agape, and surveying a variety of different other modes of love: passion, obsession, jealousy, destructiveness, suffering, transcendence. Among the readings will be Hippolytus by Euripides: poetry by Catullus and Ovid; the letters of Abelard and Heloise; the myth of Tristan and Isolde; the mystical poetry of the Troubadours and of Mechthild of Magdeburg; Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos; Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe; Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Lolita by Nabokov; Couples by John Updike; Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Hours by Michael Cunnginham; Atomized by Michel Houellebecq; and two films, Brokeback Mountain and Breaking the Waves.


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