REL-R 672 — Spring 2022

Constance Furey
Days and Times
T 4:15PM - 6:45PM
Course Description

This course will examine various theoretical explorations of what we call, simply, “Love.” Hannah Arendt, who wrote her doctoral thesis on love in St. Augustine, declares love a non-political force, crucially and necessarily sequestered to the private realm. The Christian insistence on the binding force of love, she argues, has expanded love’s jurisdiction and diminished the space for politics, properly understood. And yet in recent years, numerous theorists have identified love as a crucial correction to critique and a necessary element of politics. Eve Sedgwick’s call for reparative reading and Slavoj Zizek’s endorsement of a politics of love demonstrate both the importance and the appeal of this move.

This course will take David Nirenberg’s broadside, “The Politics of Love and Its Enemies” (Critical Inquiry 2007) as a starting point, to highlight the reasons why love might be deemed as dangerous as it is powerful in the related realms of politics and critique. The first book, to which we will devote at least three weeks, will be Hannah Arendt’s remarkable and still understudied thesis, Love and St. Augustine (1929; Eng. trans. 1996), with some comparative readings of her arguments about love and religion in The Human Condition. Our plan is to then to explore one genealogy of a politics of love with sources that will include selections from Luther; Hegel’s First Jena Lecture; Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity; Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work: A Reckoning with Life; and Zizek’s brief for Christian love, The Fragile Absolute. Simone Weil and Eve Sedgwick are also likely to find their way onto the syllabus.