Reading & Composition
(Alternative) Love Plots
Most people easily recognize the standard love plot: girl meets boy, they fall in love, they overcome an obstacle to their love and thereby arrive at their “happily ever after.” By contrast, the majority of stories we will examine in this class deviate from the classic love plot formula to highlight alternative forms of love, such as self-love, contractual love, delusional love, passionate friendship, and even the love shared by monsters. These types of narratives could also be termed “queer” love stories. Accordingly, we will investigate potential reasons for such deviations, their implications about the social world, their implicit criticism of the normative love plot, and the ways in which writers adapt narrative form to suit unconventional forms of love. Alongside our primary readings, we will read some theory in order to help us understand the epistemological issues bound up with the experience of love, such as navigating between fantasy and reality, or differentiating between love and desire. Attention to the roles that gender, race, sexuality, and class play in these narratives will also be important for our discussions.
This course is designed to help students develop critical thinking, writing, and oral expression skills that are applicable beyond the domain of literary studies. Students will learn how to develop interesting analytical arguments by refining their ideas through the drafting and revision of essays. Short writing assignments will also be required in order to help facilitate thinking about the course’s material. Since this is a discussion-based course, a strong emphasis will be placed on active student participation in class.
Readings will include works by Lafayette, Sand, Balzac, Baudelaire, Shikibu, Arnim, Colette, Morrison, among others, and two films.