You are here: Home Philosophy Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love Syllabus


Document Actions
  • Content View
  • Bookmarks
  • LTI Export
Author: David O'Connor
Syllabus for PHIL 20214

Course Description

Built around Plato's Symposium, Shakespeare, Catholic writings, and several movies, this course explores the nature of romance and erotic love.  We will examine such topics as sexuality, marriage, and procreation with an eye towards how we can be better at being in love.  The course generally tries to integrate the analytic approach of philosophy with the imaginative approach of literature.




Plato, The Symposium of Plato: The Shelley Translation, ed. David K. O’Connor, South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 2002. ISBN 1587318024.

Andre Dubus, Dancing After Hours, New York, NY: Vintage, 1996. ISBN 0679751149.

Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1995. ISBN 0872202208.

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice, trans. Michael Henry Heim, New York, NY: Vintage, 2004. ISBN 0060576170.

Genesis and Matthew (selections).

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (selections), 1954-55.

Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, trans. Janet Smith, New Hope Publications, 1968.

William Shakespeare, Othello, ed. Russ McDonald, New York, NY: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0140714634.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. Russ McDonald, New York, NY: Penguin, 2000. ISBN 0140714553.



Pierre Auguste Cot, Spring, 1873. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.



Exotica, directed by Atom Egoyan, 1994.

The Hairdresser’s Husband, directed by Patrice Leconte, 1994.

The Lord of the Rings (selections), extended versions, directed by Peter Jackson, 2001-2003.

Mind the Gap, directed by Eric Shaeffer, 2004.

Hannah and Her Sisters, directed by Woody Allen, 1986.

The Secret Lives of Dentists, directed by Alan Rudolph, 2002.

Babette’s Feast, directed by Gabriel Axel, 1986.

Proof, directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1992.


Graded activities include several paper assignments (some of which are dialogues) and a final examination. The final grade will be based on your five best grades, with the constraint that at least two grades must come in the first half of the course and at least two in the second half. At least two papers must be dialogues. Otherwise, you may turn in as many assignments as you wish. Because students have so much flexibility about when to turn in assignments, no late papers will be accepted.

Reuse Course
Download IMS package