Last Chance to Sign Up: Mythologies of Love and Sex (Signum University Class)

mythologies of love and sexI am truly pleased to be offering a course at Signum University this coming Spring. This is my first time teaching at Signum, and I love the way they set up their courses: An inexpensive and accessible online program with credit and audit options.

Running from the beginning of May through the end of July, I am teaching on “Mythologies of Love and Sex.” These are the great myths at the foundation of our culture, the moments where stories of love, sex, marriage, fidelity, and devotion have intersected with the hinges of history. It will be a semester of great reading and transformational ideas. Consider joining us this Spring at Signum!

Click here for more information.

About Signum University

Signum University believes education should be accessible, dynamic, and affordable. Signum is committed to establishing a completely virtual campus that will cultivate fruitful intellectual exchange between students and teachers, prolific vocational growth for our staff, and a vibrant academic community among our students.

Signum University and Mythgard Institute offer a unique digital campus environment in which students all over the world can engage throughout the course. Each class encourages rigorous academic conversation through multiple points of instruction and dialogue. Classes are available as part of the MA program, or as an inexpensive audit.

  • The Signum Classroom provides a convenient interface for live, direct interaction with instructors
  • A Class Forum provides a place for students and instructors to hold in-depth conversations about class-related topics
  • Discussion Sections offer a moderated setting where M.A. students can talk with each other on a weekly basis
  • Lecturer and preceptor Office Hours allow further conference opportunities to ask questions, clarify ideas, and present paper topics

Mythologies of Love and Sex (Summer 2016)

Taught by Brenton Dickieson, with Dr. Sara Brown and Liam Daley as preceptors.

This course explores some of the great mythologies of love that provide a background to today’s culture. Sketched out along the twin paths of C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves and a chronological development of the idea of romantic love, we explore foundational stories of love, sex, fidelity and betrayal, romance, loss, marriage, and divine and devotional love.

This treatment of love and sex has six movements. In the prologue we ask questions about the conversations of sex and love today, we begin in the civilizational nursery by looking at some of the ideas of love in ancient Mediterranean cultures. As we move into the first chapter, we look at the emergence of Greek and Jewish understanding of love, and the Christian idea of agape, or unconditional love.

In the second chapter, we will see the development—and in some cases a recovery—of the myth of romantic love in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, including themes of devotional, courtly, forbidden, and erotic loves, as well as the forms of storytelling that blended them all. Once love stories have shed their allegorical undertones, Shakespeare is an accessible starting point to discuss the place of romantic love in culture. Shakespeare is in this way the inventor of the modern romantic tradition, though his work suggests an inversion of that tradition. While Goethe captures romantic love in all its poignancy, we see Jane Austen’s inversive mind expand the theme, and turn to the four loves with a powerful cultural treatment in Pride & Prejudice.

In chapter three we turn to familial loves. Perhaps no more rapid change in relationships has come in the family loves, particularly those between parents and children. We will read pieces that suggest that the reassertion of this parental love makes for new problems as romantic, religious, and vocational love sit in uncomfortable tension with that earliest of all loves. Problematizing parental love, then, serves as an opportunity to return to the messages and stories of love in culture today.

Chapter four’s consideration of friendship love leaves us in a difficult situation. Though popular culture is beset with friends on facebook and television, the deep traditions of friendship are largely lost to us. So we turn to some children’s literature to discuss this almost forgotten love.

As an epilogue to the class, we ask some questions about love and culture today. Are we really in a renewed romanticism? What is love in a digital age? What happens when love fails—or when the mythologies of love fail? Which is the most important of the loves? We will close by returning to an ancient theme of “calling,” meant to open questions as to where the reader sits in the world.

Note: This class will have both Auditor and Discussion Auditor seats available. Discussion Auditors will participate fully in weekly preceptor sessions. Auditors and Discussion Auditors do not write papers or receive academic credit towards the M.A. degree.

Course Schedule

Mythologies of Love and Sex will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:00 – 5:30 pm Eastern Time.

Prologue: Who Did Write the Book of Love?

Week 1: “Art is a Lie Which Makes us Realize the Truth”

  • Read: Tolkien, “Mythopoeia,” Genesis 1 – 3, Lewis, The Four Loves
  • Watch: The Princess Bride
  • Recommended:Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories,” Lady in the Water Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, 1980s Brat Pack films

Week 2: Introduction to Love, Religion, and Mythology

  • Read: Song of Solomon; Lewis, The Four Loves
  • Recommended: The Epic of Gilgamesh; Homer, The IliadThe Odyssey; the Cupid and Psyche cycle in Books 4 – 6 of The Golden Ass

Chapter One: The Emergence of Agape

Week 3: Greek and Christian Inventions of Love

  • Read: Plato, “The Symposium”; 1 John, Bible Handout, Patristics Handout
  • Recommended: Harry Potter

Chapter Two: The Establishment (and Inversion?) of Eros

Week 4: Form, Flesh and Fidelity: The Art of Courtly Love

  • Read: The Letters of Abelard & Héloïse; Patristic and Medieval Writings handout; Selections from Lewis, The Allegory of Love
  • Recommended: Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur; Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love

Week 5: Shakespeare: The Invention (and Inversion?) of Romantic Love

  • Read:Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Sonnets handout
  • Recommended:Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet

Week 6: Goethe and the Romantic Tradition

Week 7: Jane Austen and the Change of the Heart

Chapter Three: The Problem of Storge

Week 8: The Forbidden Love of Asher Lev

  • Read:Potok, My Name is Asher Lev

Week 9: When Love is No Better than Hate

Chapter Four: Can We Recover Philia?

Week 10 (July 4 – 8): “Let Me Be Thy Squire”

Week 11: Where did Friendship Go?

Epilogue: Love and the Cosmos

Week 12: Plastic Bodies and Broken Hearts: Myths of Love Today

  • Read:Coelho, The Alchemist
  • Watch:Lars and the Real GirlEasy A
  • Recommended:Lewis, A Grief Observed

Texts

Most of these books are widely available in local libraries or in inexpensive editions. Any edition of the books is fine. Translation in parentheses; it is okay to choose a different translation. In some cases, handouts will be provided in class, as noted below.

We’ve linked to free online resources where possible. Where no legally free version is available, links point to the Amazon page where a copy of the text may be purchased. Purchases made through these links help Signum University at no additional cost to you.

Required Texts

Required Films

Suggested Works

Note: Course schedules, texts and other details are subject to change. Upon enrolling, students should refer to the syllabus and Moodle course page for the most current information.

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About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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5 Responses to Last Chance to Sign Up: Mythologies of Love and Sex (Signum University Class)

  1. Reblogged this on The Oddest Inkling and commented:
    Last chance to sign up for an amazing class about LOVE:

    Like

  2. >What is love in a digital age?<

    Brenton, interestingly, a neurosurgeon who spoke at our church showed us photographs of a "normal" brain and of the brain of someone playing video games. The second one, he pointed out, was "lit up" in the same areas of the brain as that of someone in love. Because the connection is just as intense, obsessive-compulsive, subjective, and captivating as love–IS love–it becomes addictive, replacing real relationships (even the possibility of real relationships) with fantasy ones. He said having the brain synapses etc. of maturing young children affected by the jerky, rapid movements on a screen as well as the seductive content, it permanently alters and limits their responses to the world around them. (I am not quoting, just summarizing from memory.) Hence ADD, ADHD, minute attention span, etc., etc.

    The emotional need for constant connection to the images on the screen and the act of manipulating them caused players to become enraged by interference with their games. They could not tolerate interruption, even for food. Some played so long their spouses gave up trying to have a relationship and eventually packed up, said goodbye and left them–and the players didn't even notice. Some (I watched on YouTube videos afterward) attacked people or threw their computers through walls. Some kind of love, huh?

    On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 7:33 AM, A Pilgrim in Narnia wrote:

    > Brenton Dickieson posted: “I am truly pleased to be offering a course at > Signum University this coming Spring. This is my first time teaching at > Signum, and I love the way they set up their courses: An inexpensive and > accessible online program with credit and audit options. Runn” >

    Like

    • That’s certainly one aspect of love in a digital age. It is like we are being rewired as human beings for a new commercial purpose.
      But there are probably other aspects: lovers who text one another, dating websites, online photo albums, birth announcements that are almost live on facebook, the cult of beauty….

      Like

  3. Pingback: Last Chance to Sign Up: Mythologies of Love and Sex (Signum University Class) | jubilare

  4. Pingback: 2016: A Year of Reading | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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