An inquiry into the nature of friendship from historical, literary, and philosophical perspectives. What are and what have been the relations between friendship and love, friendship and marriage, friendship and erotic life, friendship and age? How do men’s and women’s conceptions and experiences of friendship differ? Readings will be drawn from the following: The Epic of Gilgamesh; Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus; selections from the Bible and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics; essays by Montaigne, Emerson, and C.S. Lewis; Mill’s On the Subjection of Women; Whitman’s poetry; Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs; Morrison’s Sula; Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, and Herzog’s My Best Fiend.
The readings vary considerably. The seminar being an introduction to liberal studies, students will be encouraged to cross, even transcend disciplinary lines intelligently. There will be frequent, short writing assignments on the materials of the seminar and one relatively long final paper which will be, in effect, an essay on Friendship. The seminar will be one prolonged discussion, a discussion of the texts and of short papers, the aim of which is to encourage creative reading as well as creative writing.
Fall semester. Professor Emeritus Townsend.