The Problem of Love in Western Literature


From the Trojan War to reality TV, love causes problems. It can inspire lovers and drive them mad; foster alliances and destroy friendships; provoke war and broker peace. Far from being an issue of self and other, love impacts communities, and, in some philosophies, binds the whole cosmos. Because love raises fundamental questions about the meaning of human life, the amorous discourse of the past can help us to understand what we talk about when we talk about love today. We will read Plato on the erotic ascent, Virgil's deceived Dido, Ovid's rules of seduction, Augustine's efforts at self-control, Dante's mourning for the dead Beatrice, Boccaccio's legitimation of female desire, Petrarch's frustrated pursuit of Luara, Michelangelo's homoerotic poetry, the libertine lusts of Don Giovanni and Casanova. In two millennia of discourse about love, what changes and what persists?

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Crosslisting Numbers

ITALIAN 225, LIT 205

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