The Myth of Romantic Love: Denis de Rougemont's Love in the Western World

Nov 13, 2014
Swift Hall, 3rd Floor Lecture
1025 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Mark ShiffmanVillanova University

Mark Shiffman (Villanova University)

cosponsored by the Medieval Studies Workshop

“…is there a notion of love abroad in the world which, although we do not yet realize it, renders the marriage bond intolerable in its very essence?” Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World

The celebration of passionate romantic love in the modern West has its cultural roots in the courtly poetry of medieval Provence. In Love in the Western World, Denis de Rougemont argues that this poetic tradition tacitly communicates the religious vision of the Cathars, a Gnostic dualist sect that disdained marriage and the body. His thesis unfolds into a provocative exploration of the sometimes hidden relationships of religion and culture, eros, God, nihilism and the question of a good life.

This lecture celebrates the 75th anniversary of the original publication of L’Amour et l’Occident.

Mark Shiffman is Chair of the Humanities Department and Classical Studies Program at Villanova University. He holds a B.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research interests include Ethics, Social and Political Theory, Ancient Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Philosophical Themes in Literature. Prof. Shiffman is the translator of Aristotle’s De Anima (Focus Books) and Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Saint Augustine’s Press, forthcoming), and has published on Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, William of Ockham, John Locke, Simone Weil, Ralph Ellison, Wendell Berry and Rémi Brague.