Skip to main content Skip to navigation

HP317 Love, Death, and Desire in the Golden Age

Module Code: HP317
Module Name: Love, Death, and Desire in the Golden Age
Module Coordinator: Dr Rich Rabone
Date and time TBC
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

What happens when you love someone you can’t have? Is desire really anything to do with love? And why are beautiful women always described in the same ways?

These questions offer a way into some of the most vibrant and dynamic literature of Golden-Age Spain, where love and desire were central themes, but were often seen as illicit or impossible. We begin by exploring how Hispanic writers responded to contemporary philosophies of love, especially the Petrarchan model of a despairing lover rejected by his beloved. This theme provoked a brilliantly inventive response in Spain, from enthusiastic imitation to subversion and parody. We will see how female writers such as María de Zayas and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz adapt or attack these male-dominated conventions, and explore how religious writers use the language of human love to describe their relationship with God. The second half of the course examines the specific problem of impossible love, in texts where an ill-fated love match produces dramatically different outcomes: implausible marriages, violent murder, and monstrous jealousy. By analyzing Lope de Vega’s fast-paced comedy ‘El perro del hortelano’, his tragic masterpiece ‘El castigo sin venganza’, and the controversial mythological tales of Luis de Góngora, we will ask what drives these different approaches to impossible love – from critiques of society and literary convention to unexpected humour and wit.

Assessment Method

1100 word commentary (20%)

3400 word essay (80%)