Event—Adult Education

Love Hurts: Lovesickness as a Medical and Cultural Phenomenon

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In this class, we’ll consider medieval and modern texts that shed light on how our thoughts on romantic love have (or haven’t) changed over the last eight centuries.

From the "New Academy of Complements," 1671. Call number: Case Y 1846 .62

Class Description

In the ancient and medieval worlds, certain forms of love were diagnosed—and treated—as medical illnesses. To the medieval mind, love was suffering, a pathological state in and of itself. These ideas of disordered love have had an outsized impact on the way love is understood in Western culture.

This class will consider medieval and modern texts, both literary and scientific, to explore how the way we talk about romantic love has — and hasn't — changed over the last eight centuries. An examination of “love-as-sickness" gives us insight into cultural assumptions about this nearly universal experience and provides a springboard to examine the rise and fall of diseases as medical and cultural phenomena.

Annalese Duprey earned her PhD at Northwestern University with a dissertation on lovesickness as a medical, cultural, and literary phenomenon in medieval England. She teaches courses in medical humanities, poetry, and literature in the Chicagoland area.

Materials List


  • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night. Simon and Schuster, 2004. ISBN: 978-0743482776
  • Instructor-Distributed Materials

First Reading:

  • Prior to the first meeting, class participants will receive access to a digital course packet, and/or an emailed PDF document of course readings. The pre-reading for the first class will be three selections provided in the packet.

Cost and Registration

This class is full, but you can still register for the waitlist on Learning Stream.

Five sessions, $205 ($184.50 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.

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