What Think You of Falling in Love? Writing, Literature, Storytelling, and Cultural Perspectives on Love

Winter Open
Class Standing
Rebecca Chamberlain

Love is "the one word no writer should ever utter,” says author Natalie Goldberg, yet stories of star-crossed lovers, unrequited love, spiritual love, and love of friends, family, and the natural world are compelling forces in literature, myth, history, and culture. Shakespeare has Rosalind ask, "What think you of falling in love”’ as they transform gender stereotypes and social conventions in “As You Like It.” In the end, “everything is about loving and not loving,” says Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, 13th C. Persian poet.

This intensive program will survey different representations of love from the passion of “Isis and Osiris” in ancient Egypt, to Sappho, “Eros and Psyche,” and the categories of love described by Plato and classic Greek traditions, to Medieval Courtly love traditions, Arthurian Romances, Tristan and Isolde, Heloise and Abelard, and Rumi, to sacred texts and spiritual traditions, to naturalists’ descriptions and devotion to the natural world, to diverse literary traditions from Shakespeare to Blake, and the Beatles. As we explore various aspects of love, from the romantic to the mystical, we will consider selections from John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Keats, Rilke, D.H. Lawrence, Neruda, Tagore, and a variety of contemporary authors, poets, artists, and filmmakers. We will explore how love is represented in traditional cultures, world mythology and folklore, contemporary media and podcasts, firsthand narrative accounts, and sociological and psychological studies of how different cultures sanction or restrain this powerful emotion.

We will review a variety of sources, both contemporary and traditional, as we engage in critical reflection and analysis of texts, films, and performances, and develop tools of literary criticism, historical analysis, creative expression, and cultural studies. Sources will include ballads and songs, literature, mythology, poetry, plays, films, novels, and works of art.  Students will experience a rigorous program of reading, writing, artistic expression, oral presentation, and critical discussion. Writing, research, and independent projects are designed for the committed student who wants to work deeply and to write well. Instructional strategies include lectures, workshops, films, performances, and seminars. Foundational texts will be Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, and Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of Love. 

"Contact is hard, but how do we create intimacy in our world? . . .In the end, what mattered, what was really important was, 'Did I Love Well?  Did I love people, earth, clouds, trees, life, language, myself?'" --Jack Kornfield     

12 Credit Option: Students who enroll for 12 credits will participate in all program activities plus a 4 credit in-program Individual Learning Contract (ILC) or capstone project. The content of the ILC or project must relate to the program and be approved by the faculty by the end of Week 1 of the quarter.   


Course Reference Numbers
(12): 20239
(8): 20240

Academic Details

writing, comparative literature, language, communications, media and film studies, the visual and performance arts, education, folklore, oral history, and community research, anthropology, cultural studies, public, community, and human services, history, counseling and psychology, sociology, political and social discourse, leadership, natural history, ecocriticism, natural history writing, and environmental education,diversity studies, social, political and environmental activism, and other areas.


$30 for entrance fees and class arts or performance projects


In Person (W)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Evening and Weekend
Schedule Details
SEM 2 A1105 - Lecture