Faculty Bookwatch: William Reddy, The Making of Romantic Love

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: FHI Garage (C105, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse)

Sponsored by the Duke University Libraries and the FHI.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 3.57.52 PM_0.pngPlease join us for a panel discussion on  William Reddy's new book, The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900 – 1200 CE (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Panelists include Martin Aurell (Professor of the History of the Middle Ages, Center for Advanced Studies of Medieval Civilization, University of Poitiers), Terry Kawashima (Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Asian Studies,  Director of Asian Studies , College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts Boston), and Laurie Patton (Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Professor of Religion, Duke University). Professor Reddy will also participate.

William Reddy is the William T. Laprade Professor of History and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. His previous books include: The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of EmotionsThe Invisible Code: Honor and Sentiment in Postrevolutionary France, 1815-1848Money and Liberty in Modern Europe: A Critique of Historical Understanding, and The Rise of Market Culture: The Textile Trade and French Society, 1750-1900.

Jointly hosted by the Duke University Libraries, Faculty Bookwatch is a series that celebrates notable recent books by Duke faculty in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. For more information about the series and to see a list of previous Bookwatch programs, click here.

About the Book
In the twelfth century, the Catholic Church attempted a thoroughgoing reform of marriage and sexual behavior aimed at eradicating sexual desire from Christian lives. Seeking a refuge from the very serious condemnations of the Church and relying on a courtly culture that was already preoccupied with honor and secrecy, European poets, romance writers, and lovers devised a vision of love as something quite different from desire.  Romantic love was thus born as a movement of covert resistance.

In The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, William M. Reddy illuminates the birth of a cultural movement that managed to regulate selfish desire and render it innocent—or innocent enough. Reddy strikes out from this historical moment on an international exploration of love, contrasting the medieval development of romantic love in Europe with contemporaneous eastern traditions in Bengal and Orissa, and in Heian Japan from 900-1200 CE, where one finds no trace of an opposition between love and desire. In this comparative framework, Reddy tells an appealing tale about the rise and fall of various practices of longing, underscoring the uniqueness of the European concept of sexual desire.