||An interdisciplinary course exploring
a range of topics relating to love, sexual politics, and human relationships--from
the antagonisms of male and female in the drama of ancient Athens to the
confusions or transformations of gender portrayed on the Hollywood screen
The main concern of the course is the cultural history
of love--with particular emphasis on the subject as it has been represented
in Western art and literature. In effect, instead of examining love via
the pronouncements of its current high priests (sexologists, psychotherapists,
supermarket-magazine editors, and talk-show hosts), students will study
it largely through the works of its traditional masters--poets and philosophers.
They will discover, for example, that Plato and Shakespeare offer insights
into love and jealousy that are at least as subtle and complex as those
of Leo Buscaglia or Hallmark cards. That Sappho and Schopenhauer can be
as outrageous and electrifying on the topic of sexual desire as anything
on Jerry Springer or Dr. Ruth. And that just a few pages of Proust or Chaucer
supply a deeper and livelier account of fidelity and betrayal, devouring
passion, and primal sensuality than can be found in an entire rack of today's
best-selling sex primers and matrimonial guides.
Although the principle materials of the course will be literary
texts (mostly poetry and drama), class discussions will also draw on a
selection of influential scientific, historical, and other non-fiction
works--including readings from Freud, Beauvoir, J.S. Mill, Charlotte Perkins
Gilman, and Mary Woolstonecraft--and on current films and works of popular
journalism and literature.
|"Whoever's ignorant of the art of loving
May study my book, and gain consummate skill."--Ovid, The
Art of Love, I, 1-2.
|"It's absurd to put love and friendship in the same category. Sexual
love is impetuous and fickle, a feverish flame subject to sharp swellings
and flickerings, fits and lulls, spurts and interruptions. Friendship,
on the other hand, is a constant warmth, moderate and even, smooth and
gentle, with no pain or bitterness. Moreover, love is nothing but a frantic
chase for whatever eludes us; once our desire is satisfied, it is extinguished;
enjoyment kills it. Friendship, on the other hand, is constantly nourished
and never dwindles; enjoyment only increases it."--Montaigne, "Of Friendship."