Simeon Solomon, Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

A Genealogy of Eros: Plato, Sappho, Foucault

Instructor: Bruce King
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Sexual desire—ancient Greek eros—is fundamental to the philosophical dialogues of Plato and the lyric poetry of Sappho, as well as to Michel Foucault’s genealogy of the modern self.  Both Plato and Sappho begin with contemporary ideas of eros as madness, even as they also argue for the centrality of eros to new forms of self-knowledge and self-making; Foucault, too, moved from studies of madness to studies of sexuality.  In our course we will read three dialogues of Plato—LysisSymposium, and Phaedrus—alongside the lyric poetry of Sappho.  Topics for discussion will include:  same-sex desire in antiquity, erotic reciprocity, eros and education, sublimation (whether philosophical or poetic), and the justice of Socrates and of Aphrodite.  Throughout the course, our third interlocutor will be Foucault, whose History of Sexuality we will read in counterpoint to Plato and Sappho.  Foucault’s path-finding (and controversial) study of ancient sexuality and morality invites our own on-going contemplation of “future sexuality.”

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
March 08 — March 29, 2023
4 weeks


Registration Open

SKU: MAR23-NY-EROS Categories: , Tags: , ,