What is Love?

Is love a spiritual or a bodily phenomenon? Is the concept of love timeless or ever changing? How does thinking about love lead us to ask other important philosophical and social questions?

About the course

Courtly Scenes LouvreIn this course we will examine the classical roots, medieval developments, and contemporary permutations of Western ideas of romantic love. With an eye to thinking about representations of love in our own culture, we consider some of the foundational love books of the Western tradition.

This course satisfies the Aesthetic and Interpretive Inquiry (AII) and Engaging Diversity (ED) WAYS.



  • Kathryn Starkey (German Studies)
  • David Lummus (French and Italian)

Selected Course Material

  • Plato, SymposiumThe Letters of Abelard and Heloise
  • Gottfried von Straßberg, Tristan
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, selected tales from the Decameron
  • Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain (film)
  • Chester Brown, Paying For It


Learn more about the WAYS requirements