Unlearning Our Loneliness

Unlearning Our Loneliness I: The Symposium

The Summer 2015 session of Unlearning our Loneliness will read through Plato’s Symposium and begin to unpack different and influential ways of understanding love that still resonate in modern culture. A foundational course to future studies on Love, this class will focus on the tension between love as language/idea and love as physical/embodied that exists as a frequent source of confusion and misunderstanding within relationships. Reading the Symposium will be recommended, as this class will make frequent reference to the text’s specific language as a way to highlight the major models and thoughts about love.


Unlearning Our Loneliness II: Narrative Desire

The Fall 2015 session of Unlearning Our Loneliness will work through a series of short stories that call attention to how naïve conceptions of love erupt in problems for lovers. The syllabus includes writings from a diverse set of historical and cultural situations, and the lectures will show how each story represents a major knot that twists relationships into threads. Pulling apart these knots will reveal how it is possible to remain lonely in the context of a relationship, and will question ways to overcome the difficulties that seem situated, firmly, within the context of love itself. Although lectures will draw upon a wide range of philosophical and theological resources as ways to understand the stories, no prior knowledge is necessary. Readings will be distributed to registered students through .pdfs.

27 August: No Class—Lecture on “Creative Matters”

03 September: Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace)

10 September: The Sister (July)

17 September: The Dentist (Gaitskill)

24 September: The Hitchhiking Game (Kundera)

01 October: The Lady with the Dog (Chekov)

08 October: The Hands (Brockmeyer)

15 October: Decomposition (Quatro)


Unlearning Our Loneliness III: Love Poems

These classes discuss the obstacles to finding happiness in love and relationships by blending literature and philosophy. The spring session course will examine various poems about love that illustrate difficulties with intimacy and the value of poetry.