"True Love": Men vs. Women in Ancient and Modern Culture
"Never suppose that marriage holds more joy than pain." --Euripides, Alcestis.

  Reference Shelf


Style tips


Spring Quarter, 2002
Course No.  AOL 335
Department 76
Sections 901 - 908
Dates Mon., 6:30-9:30pm, 4/1 - 6/10
Campus South
Credit Hours 4

Faculty: David Simpson received his PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and has served on the faculty at Columbia and Northwestern. His primary academic interests are classical and Renaissance literature, media studies, American culture, professional communication, and intellectual history. A former member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, he has served as a consultant in business writing and technical analysis of financial-market trends and has written articles and reviews on topics ranging from jazz and cinema to slang and cyberculture. 

  phone: (708) 798-7570 
  fax: (708) 798-7577 
  voice mail: (312) 362-5945 3978. 
  email: dsimpson@condor.depaul.edu

Course Description: A course in literature, gender politics, and cultural history. Students will read and discuss a selection of important and influential literary and philosophical texts on love, marriage, romance, troubled relationships, and the struggle for power between men and women.  They will also review some of Western civilization's most persistent and influential male and female icons and stereotypes. Class discussion will focus not only on the assigned texts and recommended films but also on characters from history, mythology, and popular culture who have conditioned our ideas and attitudes about men and women from the days of classical Athens and Rome to the modern era. 

Competence Statements:
HC-C, H-3-B

 Can explain how two or more of the factors of race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, age, gender, sexual orientation or religion interact to shape individuals.

Can compare one social, cultural, economic, or political institution in a society with a comparable institution in a different society.
AL-H, A-1-E Can interpret the works of writers or artists within a social or historical context.
AL-C Can compare two or more authors, composers, or artists as commentators on the human condition.
Can analyze writers' or artists' representations of human experience.

Course Objectives:

In line with the competence areas, the principal aims of the course will be: 

  • To introduce students to selected works of art and literature with particular emphasis on their themes, historical and political background, and moral and social concerns.
  • To provide historical perspective on the evolution of modern gender issues 
  • To provide a critical context for evaluating contemporary views on  men, women, love, marriage, and sexual equality by comparing them with the attitudes and beliefs of earlier or different societies.
  • To introduce students to a range of important or controversial philosophical and literary texts on human nature and the human condition.

Criteria for Demonstrating Competence:

Students will be required to write one or two short essays and/or pass an examination. 

  AL-H, A-1-E    Students taking the course for AL-H or A-1-E credit will produce a 6-8 page essay discussing the career and the social impact or historical significance of a prominent female author, artist, or film-maker. The essay should engage the question of how this artist’s values and beliefs are reflected in her work. (Due 6/3.) 

 AL-C, A-1-D   To demonstrate AL-C or  A-1-D competence, students will complete a take-home examination--part essay, part objective--requiring them (a) to identify important historical figures and characters from literature and myth; (b) to define key terms and concepts from cultural history and literary criticism; and (c) to compare the views of two or more authors on such subjects as happiness, marriage, gender differences, equality, and love. (Due 6/3.) 

 HC-C, H-3-B   Students taking the course for HC-C or H-3-B will complete a 6-8 page paper describing the influence of gender, race, nationality, family, ethnic group, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status in the career or personal development of a prominent writer, artist, or public figure. (Due 6/3.) 

HC-P, H-2-E    A 6-8 page paper comparing cultural practices and institutions relating to sex, family, marriage, or education in two different societies. (Due 6/3.)

DePaul Policy on Academic Integrity:

 Note: All students enrolled  in this course are responsible for knowing and upholding the university's policy on academic integrity as outlined in the DePaul Student Handbook

Format/Learning Experience:

 Informal lecture/discussion--with occasional video. Students should notify the instructor if they cannot attend a particular class session. Otherwise, students are expected to attend regularly and complete all assigned readings. 


Essays and exams will be graded mainly on content.  However, to receive a grade of "A," essays and examination answers must exhibit superior organization and style. (For format and style guidelines, click here .) Note: The instructor will review drafts and provide comments and suggestions as long as the draft is submitted at least two weeks in advance of the final deadline. 

Required texts

 Plato, The Symposium.
 Aristophanes,  Lysistrata
 Euripides, Medea.
 Chaucer,  The Canterbury Tales
 Shakespeare,  The Taming of the Shrew
 Ibsen, A Doll House; Hedda Gabler.

Recommended texts

 Edith Hamilton, Mythology  (or a comparable anthology of classical myth). 
 Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra; A Midsummer Night's Dream ; Romeo and Juliet

Films and Videos

 The Taming of the Shrew (1967). 
 A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). 
 A Doll’s House (1973). 

Schedule of Lecture and Discussion Topics



  Questions:  David L. Simpson (dsimpson@condor.depaul.edu) 
The School for New Learning, DePaul University , Chicago, IL 60604 
 © David L. Simpson, 1998