Constructions of Desire: Representations of Eroticism in Western Culture (Honors Course)

The American College of Greece

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Constructions of Desire: Representations of Eroticism in Western Culture (Honors Course)

  • Host University

    The American College of Greece

  • Location

    Athens, Greece

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Human Development and Family Studies, Women's and Gender Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    WP 1010 Introduction to Academic Writing
    WP 1111 Integrated Academic Writing and Ethics 

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    This course will explore the construction and representation of erotic desire across Western art and thought, as well as the precarious dialogue between eroticism and cultural orthodoxies. RATIONALE: Desire is one of the most central and provoking concepts of Western consciousness; the ways in which desire has been conceived, reconceived, represented, and transformed reflect cultural shifts which affect the way we think about desire and identity. Using a variety of ‘texts’ from antiquity to modernity (tales, poetry, film, opera), and following an interdisciplinary approach, the course will map the cultural, aesthetic, political and legal environments which have shaped the way we understand desire in contemporary times. The course is structured on a series of interrelated themed sections, aiming to shed light on a network of alternative definitions of desire, subjectivity, and the prohibited. Each themed section will be centered on a specific ‘text’ and its cultural, political, and philosophical connotations across the ages.


    Upon completion of the course, students will be able to

    1. Examine a variety of materials, from ancient Greek texts and Latin narratives to contemporary literature, film, and music videos;

    2. Relate different representations and cultural views of the erotic in a way that shows a cross-cultural understanding of the ethics, politics and aesthetics of desire;

    3. Critically discuss key concepts which arise from the course to explore how erotic desire and sexuality structure cultural definitions of belonging, identity, and inclusion;

    4. Demonstrate understanding of various philosophical, cultural, and political theories surrounding views and representations of eroticism and desire.


    In congruence with the teaching and learning strategy of the college, the following tools are used:

    • Textual analysis, class discussion, workshop-style pair work and group work during class meetings;
    • Active student-centered teaching approach in the presentation of course material to engage learners; 2
    • Critical-thinking exercises and learning activities designed to help students acquire confidence and benefit from independent study;
    • Student presentations of learning material to encourage involvement in the learning process;
    • Co-curricular activities, ranging from collaboration with student clubs and societies to debates and event organizing, to encourage students’ creative engagement with the material;
    • Extensive instructor feedback on assignments and activities;
    • Individualized assistance during office hours for further discussion of lecture material, additional reading, and assignments;
    • Additional print and audiovisual educational material posted on the Blackboard course template;
    • Other relevant educational material placed on reserve in the library.

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