Poetry at the Post: Mad Love

Mad Song
The wild winds weep,
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs infold:
But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling birds of dawn
The earth do scorn.

 Archetypal lovers Romeo and Juliet portrayed by Frank Dicksee

Archetypal lovers Romeo and Juliet portrayed by Frank Dicksee


“Mad Love”, UCLA Comparative Literature Graduate Student Conference (February 19-20, 2016)
Due: 21 September

The contested boundary between madness and love regularly reasserts itself throughout recorded history. We can trace the shifting relationship between these two phenomena across most (if not all) societies and epochs, particularly in literature and art. From lovesickness in the Middle Ages, to nymphomania and hysteria in the Enlightenment, to the stalker in American horror films, the boundary between love and madness is often blurred.

In keeping with recent critical attention to the history of the passions and the body, we are interested in the aesthetic representation – literary, visual, and oral – of love madness. How are these extreme states represented in literature and art? Where is the line drawn between passionate love and mad love? How has the representation of love and/or/as madness changed over time, and what effect has this had on real-world treatment of the mentally ill? How is space left for mad love as a positive or subversive force, if at all?

This year’s UCLA Comparative Literature Graduate Conference will explore the many manifestations of mad love in literature and cultural history. We invite graduate students to present papers on related issues. Topics on the intersections between social conceptions and artistic depictions of love and madness might include, but are not restricted to:

Love as a disease
Love, madness, and psychoanalysis
Bodies performing desire
Love, madness, and identity
Gendering desire and/or madness
Love, madness, and violence
Monstrous love
Creative production/inspiration and love/madness
The role of the sensory in love and madness
Mental Health and Human Rights

The love sick Antiochus I Soter
The love sick Antiochus I Soter

Please submit your 250-300 word proposal/abstract and a CV to ucla.complit.conf@gmail.com by Monday, September 21st. Kindly mention “Submission: CLGraduate Conference” in the subject of the e-mail. All submissions should include the title of the paper, the abstract, and the name, affiliation, and contact information of the author. Please specify whether you are interested in (a) presenting a paper or (b) presenting/performing a creative work. If you are proposing a creative work, please specify any A/V needs and the length of the presentation.

Further information is available on the conference website at uclacomplitconf.com. For any additional queries, please contact ucla.complit.conf@gmail.com.

Poetry at the Post: The Chapel of Love and A Marriage Proposal at the White Buffalo Bar

The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

“Chapelle Palatine”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – photo courtesy of Urban

The White Buffalo Bar at the Gage Hotel was hopping last night. There were tourists from Illinois and Massachusetts, several bikers (always), and a group of a dozen some ladies marking a friend’s birthday. We were  enjoying pre-dinner drinks when a random man  stood up and announced, “Attention, please! I have something important to say.” His look was urgent so the room grew suddenly silent.

“I just proposed to this beautiful woman,” he began, “and she said yes. To celebrate,  I’d like to buy you all a drink.” We clapped hands and cheered. Of course! One of the biker guys walked over to the soon-to-be-groom and shook his hand. “Congratulations, man” while the group of ladies who were beginning to feel their margaritas began to sing “Chapel of Love.”  (Click the link!) How fun was that! Ok,  I admit, you probably had to be there …. but it does take us back to William Blake.

Blake is a slippery fellow. His poems begin here  but before you know it you’re there and sometimes you’re not sure where there is. In “The Garden of Love,” we begin with a chapel constructed where the speaker “used to play on the green” and soon we’re staring at clergy and death and theological restriction.

But, really William! Life can just be fun, too—margaritas, a marriage proposal and a round of “Chapel of Love.”

Blake's The Lovers' Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante's Inferno
Blake’s The Lovers’ Whirlwind illustrates Hell in Canto V of Dante’s Inferno

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