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Courtly Love in the Modern World

ENGL 220.920
instructor(s):
TR 5-8:00

Why do we love the way we do? Historians and psychologists have often turned to literature for the answer, describing a modern unconscious haunted by medieval courtly poetry's depictions of love as an experience of torture, debasement, and unsatisfiable desire. This course will examine the modern legacies of the courtly tradition in a variety of genres--from the romance novel to the horror film. We will begin by gaining an acquaintance with medieval courtly genres--the lyric poem, the romance narrative, instruction manuals on the "art" of love--and spend most of our time considering their modern incarnations--in the melodrama, _The Rules_, film noir, and elsewhere. Throughout the class we will address the consistently problematic role of women as writers, readers, and idealized objects in this literary tradition.