9:30 am to 12:30 pm
This seminar will explore the relationships between love and lyric poetry from Sappho to the early 21st century. We will look at how poets document the discourse of love in their times and help to reshape it, enacting their ideas about the nature of love-sacred or secular, chaste or erotic, conservative or revolutionary-in their most intimate decisions about genre, form, rhetoric, and wording. Our readings will include texts in translation as well as poems written originally in English; indeed, part of our goal will be to explore the pleasures of xenophilia and the way love poems invite us to cross the great divides of language, culture, historical distance, gender, and sexual orientation. Because it includes everything from the subtlest of high-art lyric texts to the most banal of pop song lyrics, and because it crops up everywhere from the Bible’s Song of Songs to highly gendered forms of popular culture (“chick flicks,” romance novels) the genre of love poetry offers teachers an opportunity to discuss language, psychology, sexual politics, intellectual history, and the shifting cultural status of both love and poetry.