Literature and Love, East and West
Inspired by Mikhail Bakhtin’s claim that relations between people cannot be governed by general rules and theories, but only worked out differently in every specific situation with the help of what Bakhtin calls “literary wisdom,” this course looks at the ways in which some well-known novels from both East and West create their own particular literary wisdom regarding the subject of love. Our readings include the following novels, a few of which shall be read only partially: James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat and The Winter of Our Discontent, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Meša Selimović’s The Fortress, Yasunari Kawabata’s Beauty and Sadness, Tonu Onnepalu’s Border State and Dubravka Ugrešić’s Steffie Speck in the Jaws of Life. We will look into different “types” of love including the “romantic” one, agape (altruistic love), ludus (playful love), pragma (e.g., the love between a long-standing couple), storge (the love between people who have shared much), and mania (obsession, related to eros). Requirements: readings, participation in class, a term paper.