Sexuality and Love in the Western World

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An interdisciplinary examination and analysis of sexuality and love in the West from prehistoric times to the Renaissance. We will begin by considering the genesis of sexuality in Paleolithic hominids and the eventual conceptions of “love” through early civilizations. We will then turn to a close examination of sexuality and love in the classical world of ancient Greece and Rome and their transformations in early Christianity, paying close attention to theological and philosophical doctrines and developments. Next, we will study medieval notions of sexuality and love and the development of romantic love in the late Middle Ages. We will conclude with an inquiry into Renaissance concepts of sexuality and love as influenced by Christian Humanism. Throughout the course we will focus on the religious, social, philosophical, economic, and cultural contexts of the West’s conceptions of sexuality and love.


1. The Birth of the Human and the Question of Sexuality

2. Sexuality and Agriculture

3. The Family in Neolithic Culture

4. Sexuality, religion, and the Incest Taboo

5. Sexuality, Love, and Civilization The Legality of Sexuality and Love

6. Sexuality and Love in Ancient Greece

7. Homosexuality in Ancient Greece

8. Rome, Ideology, and Sex and Love

9. Sexuality and Love in Monotheism The Judaic Concepts of Sexuality and Love

10. Jesus, Christ, and Christianity The Sexuality of Christ and Christian Love

11. Early Christianity and Concepts of Sexuality and Love

12. Sexuality in Christian Theology

13. Love in Christian Theology

14. Sexuality and Love in the Christian Middle Ages

15. The Troubadours in Europe

16. Romantic Love

17. The Aesthetics of Love in Medieval Art

18. The Economies of Sexuality and Love in the Late Middle Ages

19. Dante and Love

20. Sexuality, Love, and Power: Capitalism and Love

21. The Renaissance and Christian Humanism

22. The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Philosophy, Theology, and Art

23 Michelangelo and the Erotic in Renaissance Aesthetics

24. Sexuality and Love in the Early Modern World