COMPLIT 374 - Literature and the Body
Fall 2021, Section 001 - Sin, Sex, and Desire: Romance in the Middle East
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
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What does it mean to love? As both a literary genre and a system of emotion, romance has played a crucial role in answering this question across the Middle East, from the novels of late antiquity (Greek and Latin) to medieval Islamic and Christian tales of love (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, French, and Georgian), including the great books of Layli & Majnun, the 1001 Nights, and the Haft Paykar. This class offers an introduction to the romantic tradition through a close reading of some of its prominent examples, with an eye for how they construct and subvert their own ideology: even as they vaunt chastity and fidelity, normative gender roles, and licit sex (typically heterosexual marriage) as ideal virtues, they simultaneously interrogate those ideals with numerous cases of betrayal, murder, castration, gender-bending, and illicit sex (incest, adultery). The role of women in society, and their agency in shaping their stories and destinies, lies at the center of this negotiation and will be a constant focal point for us throughout the course. Although we will connect these texts with modern examples, the bulk of our readings are drawn from the pre-modern period, which will afford us a better understanding of where romantic love comes from, and a diachronic view into points of difference and similarity with its modern incarnations. In this seminar class, students will develop a framework for critically unpacking contemporary notions of love, allowing them to reconsider how such seemingly universal experiences can be conditioned by society and culture, yet also to recognize the drives, emotions, and obsessions that we may know from our personal lives in people who lived and loved centuries ago and continents away. For each session, active participation in class discussion, with students taking turns in leadership roles, will be expected. One blog post of about 500 words will be assigned every week, and every 2--3 weeks, a written assignment of 1250-1500 words will be due. A short reflection paper will be turned in at the end of the term. The purpose of these assignments is to develop your skills in critical reading, writing, thinking, and analysis.


COMPLIT 374 - Literature and the Body
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM

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