LS 800: Reflections on Reason and Passion I

Fall 2016  | Dr. Sasha Colby

Course Description:

This course will explore a variety of texts that address the relationship between passion and reason, action and thought, desire and restraint and, in this sense, help us define the central tensions of experience.   While some consideration has been given to chronology, our major focus will be the feelings and behaviours of being human and the images and themes that have been used to represent this experience from ancient cultures to the present moment.  We will also consider how certain texts have been absorbed, re-cast, and re-told.

Required Texts available at the SFU Bookstore:

  • Sophocles, Antigone  ISBN 052101073X
  • Thomas Mann, Death in Venice  ISBN 0679722068
  • Henrik Ibsen, Four Great Plays of Henrik Ibsen (we'll be reading Heda Gabler)  ISBN 1416500383
  • Jelaluddin Rumi, Love is a Stranger  ISBN 978-1-57062-527-5
  • Plato, Phaedrus  ISBN 0140449744
  • Sappho, Poetry  ISBN 0-87220-591-6
  • Lucretius, The Nature of Things  ISBN 978-0-140-44796-5
  • Dante Alighieri, La Vita Nuova  ISBN 1503042200
  • Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince  ISBN 0486272745
  • William Shakespeare, Othello  ISBN  0300108079               
  • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet   ISBN 0300104537
  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre  ISBN 9781784870737
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea  ISBN 0141185422
  • Tom Stoppard, The Invention of Love  ISBN 0571192718
  • Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto  ISBN 1551113333
  • Sigmund Freud, Delusion and Dream ISBN 978-1892295897
  • Custom Courseware available from SFU Bookstore, Harbour Centre

Additional Required Texts:

  • Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband ISBN 0375707573
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ISBN 1853261912                                        


  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart ISBN 0385667833
  • Good night Desdemona, Good morning Juliet  (The Cultch,  dates in Aug. )
  • Othello (Bard on the Beach, through September)

Course Outline:

July 15th Summer Seminar:

Week 1: Wednesday, September 7th

  • Sappho, Poems and Fragments
  • Rumi, Love is A Stranger
  • Courseware:  James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”; Michael S. Harper, “Dear John, Dear Coltrane”        

Week 2:  Wednesday, September 14th

  • Sophocles, Antigone
  • Anouilh adaptation, Antigone (Film)
  • SFU Library Link
  • Discussion:  Writing academic papers
  • Reason and Passion presentations:  (1) The Prince    (2) La Vita Nuova

Week 3:  Wednesday, September 21st 

  • Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Dante, La Vita Nuova
  • Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband
  • Reason and Passion presentation:  (3) Romeo and Juliet  (4) Othello    

Friday, September 23rd

  • 7:30 pm show – Romeo and Juliet  (Bard on the Beach)  dir. Kim Collier

Week 4:  Wednesday, September 28th

  • Shakespeare, Othello and Romeo and Juliet                                          

Week 5:   Wednesday, October 5th

  • Dinner:  Bring your thesis.   Working dinner on writing.
  • Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
  • Courseware: Martha Nussbaum, "Beyond Obsession and Disgust: Lucretius and the Therapy of Love"
  • Reason and Passion Presentations:  (5) The Renaissance   (6) “The Nature of Gothic”

Week 6:  Wednesday, October 12th

  • ***First Essay Due in Class *** 
  • Pater, The Renaissance  Introduction and Conclusion (Courseware)
  • Ruskin, “The Nature of Gothic” (Courseware)
  • Morris, “Useful Work versus Useless Toil” (Courseware)
  • Stoppard, The Invention of Love
  • Reason and Passion Presentations: (7) Communist Manifesto   (9) Jane Eyre

Week 7:  Wednesday, October 19th

  • Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto
  • Bronte, Jane Eyre
  • Reason and Passion Presentation:  (10) Wide Sargasso Sea

Week 8:  Wednesday, October 26th

  • Excerpt: David Chariandy, Soucouyant (Courseware)
  • Interview with Philip Lopate (Courseware)
  • Creative Non Fiction Essays:  Austin Clarke, “Privilege” and Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That”   Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea   
  • Reason and Passion Presentations:  (11) Delusion and Dream   (12) “Roman Fever” and “The Beast in the Jungle”   (13) “Punchkin” 

Tuesday November 1st 

  • Read:  Indian folktale, “Punchkin” (Courseware)
  • See: The Elephant Wrestler – The Cultch Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables St.,  7:45 p.m.    

Week 9:  November 2nd

  • Freud, Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva
  • Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”     (courseware)
  • Edith Wharton, “Roman Fever” (courseware)
  • Reason and Passion Presentations: (14) Hedda Gabler  (15)  “Our Friend Judith”

Week 10:  November 9th

  • Hernik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler
  • Doris Lessing, “Our Friend Judith”
  • Reason and Passion Presentations: (16) Phaedrus  (17)  Death in Venice     

Week 11: November 16th

  • ***Second Essay Due in Class*** 
  • Plato, Phaedrus
  • Mann, Death in Venice
  • Reason and Passion Presentations: (18) “The First Manifesto of Surrealism”   (19) Mrs. Dalloway

Week 12: November 23rd

  • Breton, “The First Manifesto of Surrealism” (courseware)
  • Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Short Film Excerpt:  The Hours    

Week 13: November 30th

  • Reflections and Re-tellings: ***Presentations***