How have ideas about courtship changed between the twelfth century and today? Just what was “courtly love”? And how has it influenced our own views of romance? Our readings will include literature that defined this influential concept, from medieval Arthurian romances to Renaissance sonnets and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. We will trace the influence of these traditions on twentieth-century films such as The Philadelphia Story, and on our popular culture now. In the process, we will explore the history of Western thought about gender relations, and the political and economic implications of our ideas about beauty, sex, and love.