Interdisciplinary Elective Subject, topic 2: The invention of Romantic love in European literature

Course content

How we are loving today and how we think about love has been influenced to a great extent by Romanticism. Scholarship holds that ‹Romantic love› is paradigmatic in a way which determined our love life from the beginning of the 19th century until the present time. Such an assumption implies that not only our ideas, but also our feelings of love are changeable. Love may be universal, but its inner and outer manifestations are subject to historical conditions.


In our seminar, we will be dealing with these ideas. We will take a look into the research of emotions and enquire about the historicity of feelings. We will discuss the concept of Romantic love, as it has been interpreted by some chosen theorists, and compare it to other forms of love. We will read literary texts from German, French, Spanish, and English Romanticism in order to find out how the Romantics themselves have conceived of love. We will also ask which historical conditions have caused this particular kind of love and how it developed throughout the 19th century. And we will think about the meaning of Romantic love for us, the inhabitants of ‹late capitalism›.


The topic of Romantic love offers a wide range of possibilities. Much in accordance with their personal interests, students will be able to work on literary, philosophical, historical, and sociological issues alike. They will not only make acquaintance with Romantic literature on love, but also with different theoretical approaches towards this phenomenon. Additionally, the course will introduce them into current fields of knowledge (love studies, emotion research) which may turn out to be relevant for their further studies.

The course is thematically and didactically divided into 3 main parts:
1) Classes with lectures and group work. These will be located at the beginning of the course. In this part, theory is reviewed and discussed.
2) Then we will read literary works (or extracts thereof) which will be discussed in the classes. The students will do micro-assignments which identify problems and formulate questions on the basis of the various works. Time will be set aside for feedback.
3) The students choose a topic for the exam paper and work with it in language groups. Time is set aside for guidance (individually or in groups).

The course will be held in English. All primary and secondary texts will be read in the original language or in an English translation. For the individual topics, students are asked to work with the original texts within their field of studies. Guidance of the working process will also cover German, French and Spanish.

Primary texts by F. Schlegel, Kleist, C. Brentano, Musset, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Vigny, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Zola, Proust, Apollinaire, Breton. Secondary texts: Niklas Luhmann: Love as Passion; Alain Badiou: In the Praise of Love; Eva Illouz: Consuming the Romantic Utopia; Roland Barthes: A lover’s discourse: Fragments; René Girard: Deceit, Desire and the Novel

Continuous feedback during the course
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 325,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
Programme level

1 semester


Dette er et dagkursus via tompladsordningen mod betaling på Åbent Universitet. Tilmeld dig og se aktuel prisoversigt på

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Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator
  • Alexander Knopf   (15-49746d8069766c6d7a36537677786e48707d7536737d366c73)

Alexander Knopf
Carsten Meiner
Robert W. Rix
Katrine H. Andersen

Saved on the 21-11-2022

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