[Cross-listed with Italian Studies 414, Romance Studies 420C, and Religion, Literature and The Arts 471]

The World in the Eye of the Beloved: Love and Consciousness in the Mediterranean Middle Ages

The 11th to 13th centuries produced some of the most intense, sublime and passionate poetry to be found in the Western tradition, and beyond. Throughout the Mediterranean, love poetry became one of the privileged portals to access a holistic experience of life. In and through their yearning for the Beloved, poets addressed our inborn desire for meaning, fulfillment, perfect happiness. Who is the Beloved, then, what does s/he reveal to the lover, and where does the “learning of the heart”, which the experience of love so understood entails, lead to?

In this course we will:

  1. read (in English translation) and discuss a number of poetic texts pertaining to the love experience from the Medieval Provençal, Italian, Hispanic, Islamic, and Indian worlds;
  2. evaluate some of the most representative traditional critical interpretations that have been given of the “literary phenomenon” of love poetry in this historical context;
  3. approach and evaluate less canonical readings of these texts through critical studies that speak out of in an intentionally comparativist, hermeneutical perspective.

Primary Texts:
Romance of Tristan and Iseult, ed. J. Bédier. Dover, 2005.
Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances. Penguin Classics, 1991.
Dante Alighieri, Vita nuova, tr. S. Applebaum. Dover, 2001.
Nizami Ganjavi, The Story of Layla and Majnun. Omega, 1996.
Faridoddin Attar, The Conference of the Birds. Penguin, 2007.

Secondary Texts:
A selection of critical readings will be provided, in format TBA.

At least 30 credits of lower division courses or permission of the instructor. Precludes credit for ITAL 404 and vice versa.

Students who plan to minor in Italian must take this course as ITAL and will be expected to do part of their reading and assignments in the Italian language.
For the syllabus and more detailed information, please go to Connect once you have registered.

Language of instruction: English

Course Registration