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Explore love, desire, and violence in literature and culture.

Director: Dr. Anna Gibson, Department of English


Amor students will examine the meanings of love and what it conquers, resists, and produces in literature and culture from the classical period to the present. Whom and what do we love? How do we think about love in relation to sex, violence, and oppression? How do ideologies, social status, gender, and race shape the meanings of love? Students in Amor will learn to assess how acts of reading and writing shape cultural experiences of love and violence.

Amor FacultyAmor Faculty: Dr. Sarah Miller, Dr. Erin Speese and Dr. Anna Gibson

FALL 2016

Love of Books (ENGL 115C), Dr. Anna Gibson, English

Why do we read books? Why and how do we love (or hate) books? And how can we use books as tools for social justice? AMOR students will explore these questions as we investigate the cultural meaning of books, from criticism to celebration and from book collecting to book burning. We will discuss popularity, "relatability," critical interpretation, and the difference between reading for fun and literary criticism. We will delve into some book history, consider the impact of technology on books and reading, and discuss access to books. A central component of this class will be how books function in the face of violence and oppression. We will read Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, and Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran to examine the relationships between reading, love, and violence, and we will also work with Book'Em, an organization in Pittsburgh that sends books to prisoners throughout Pennsylvania.

Love and Violence in Roman Poetry (CLXS 235C/WSGS 235C), Dr. Sarah Miller, Classics

This course is an exploration of the poetic representations of love and violence in several Roman authors. Students will read selections from Propertius, Catullus, Vergil, and Juvenal. A substantial portion of the semester will be devoted to the Augustan poet, Ovid. Students will analyze Ovid's portraits of women as both objects and agents of erotic desire and aggression that have led modern readers to label him a misogynist as well as a proto-feminist. Students will be encouraged to think critically about issues of sex and gender in ancient Rome and in the modern world.

The objectives of this course are:

1. to explore the representations of love, sex, violence, and the models of masculinity and femininity in Roman poetry

2. to identify genre and intended readership in Roman poetry, and to understand how they shape poetic content

3. to encourage creative thinking about how the themes and characters in Roman poetry remain relevant in the modern world

Thinking and Writing Across the Curriculum. Topic: Loving Publics: Gender, Race, and the Rhetoric of Public Intellectuals (UCOR 101C, 2 sections),Dr. Erin Speese, English

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement over the past few years, the idea of the public intellectual has transformed through its relationship to activism. Historically, as Odile Heynders notes, "The public intellectual is a generalist and a person of ideas, who is markedly not a specialist scholar or academic because s/he has a vital concern for the practical application of ideas and the welfare of society." In our contemporary moment, the public intellectual does not function in the same way. First, there is the figure of the public intellectual who is foremost an intellectual who courts public attention through his (rather than her) ideas. In this realm, white men, stemming from the image of the traditional public intellectual, tend to dominate, i.e. Dave Eggers and Jonathan Franzen. However, a second type of public intellectual, who passionately educates the public about and advocates for a particular issue, has also emerged in connection with discussions about oppression related to race, sexuality, gender, or disability. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Roxanne Gay's discussions of race and feminism in TED talks, magazine articles, and essays exemplify this second strain, which blends intellectualism and activism. Public intellectuals are master rhetoricians; they use their persona, wield their language, and court their audience as a way to gain visibility for an issue or cause. In this course, we will look at how these public intellectuals engage their audience through persuasive language, technology, social media, traditional media, and popular culture. We will also explore the following questions: How does the language of a public intellectual create an audience? How does the physical body, gendered or raced, contribute to the visibility of a public intellectual? And ultimately, how do public intellectuals create loving publics that encourage activism, especially for marginalized subjects? In all, we will look at how language, the body, and identity politics all play a role in crafting the contemporary public intellectual.

Research and Information Skills (UCOR 100C), Dr. Erin Speese, English


AMOR resident students live in St. Ann Living-learning Center:

St. Ann is in the lower right-hand corner of the campus map.