Honors | Doomed Lovers and Impossible Friends
H203 | 0013 | Brogan


Exploration of a perennial theme in Western Literature and
Culture, including works in a variety of forms (poetry, fiction, film,
drama, and popular music) wherein lovers or close friends for one
reason or another are forced apart or driven to their death. Perhaps
the best know example is Romeo and Juliet, a drama which has been
recast many times, most recently in the movie, Shakespeare in Love.
The theme of forbidden companionship is a flexible one, however, as
can be seen from a partial listing of works - dating from the 12th to
the 21st century - to be examined by the class during the course of
the semester: The Romance of Tristan and Iseult; A Streetcar Named
Desire; Notes from Underground; Thelma and Louise; Lolita; Venus and
Adonis; The Sorrows of Young Werther; and Hedda Gabler. Conventiently
for our purposes, the Indiana University Opera has scheduled a
performance of Faust for the spring of 2001, which will allow the
class an opportunity to witness one such work in a liver performance.
Throughout the semester, we will engage in the process of
comparison and analysis, putting things together, and taking them
apart. In what respects does the legendary Tristan resemble Goethe's
Werther, or Ibsen's Hedda? How might we distinguish between the
techniques employed in the film Streetcar and the novel Lolita to
indicate a forbidden sexual relationship? By what means does a musical
composer convey heartbreak, especially when the lyrics may be in a
foreign language? These and other questions will provide the substance
of inquiry as we attempt to comprehend the various works, first on
their own terms, and then in relation to one another. Underlying the
entire course will be the question of how we might explain the
persistence of the theme throughout so many centuries.