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January 24, 2006


Valentine's Day Sources: Smith Faculty On Love by the Book

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Love has preoccupied writers throughout time, and in texts from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” to Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” writers have shaped and interpreted the experience for readers.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Smith College faculty members are available to explain a variety of narratives about love that are found in literature.


William Oram, Helen Means Professor of English Language & Literature, analyzes sonnets about love during Shakespeare’s time – the 16th century – striking for the variety and incompatibility of the ways in which writers thought about love. To some, love is considered a youthful pastime and to others a means of self-transcendence, he says.

Martine Gantrel-Ford, professor of French studies, delves into love triangles. In 19th- and 20th-century novels by Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert and others, a brilliant and highly cultured society typically sinks into the day-to-day mechanics of an often-disappointing love triangle, she says.

Deirdre Knight, associate professor of East Asian languages and literature, looks at Asian narratives and asks whether freely chosen love is merely a Western ideal. In works by such authors as Hayashi Fumiko, Hong Ying and Nadine Gordimer, she explores the concept of love, seduction and desire.

Robert Hosmer, senior lecturer of English language and literature, says that wherever love surfaces, so do a number of nasty side effects ranging from jealousy to suicide and murder. Hosmer explores the dynamics of love in a number of classic literary texts drawn from poetry, drama, fiction and opera, including Eurpidides’ “Medea”; Virgil’s “Aeneid”; Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary”; Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
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