T e a c h e r  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

What is Love?

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CHIN, Ottawa, Ontario

Love Across the Ages
This lesson is designed to be a fun and engaging way to celebrate Valentine's Day. You and your students will explore the concept of love and how it has been interpreted and expressed across Western cultures. While procreation is biological in nature, love is a complex emotion within the human psyche. What is 'love' and how has it changed over time? No doubt, ideas of romance and the pursuit of a lover are much different now than they were thousands of years ago. Or are they?

This lesson should cover 1 - 2 class periods and should be supported by any additional class references (textbooks, teacher notes, etc...). It is intended primarily for the secondary school setting, ideally for classes in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, or any other relevant social science courses.

Enjoy!
History of St. Valentine
If you would like some information on St. Valentine and his legacy, please click on this link. It is a brief but informative collection of interesting facts about the life of this iconic saint.
Presence of the Past
Culture is like an onion, layer growing upon layer.
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Learning Object Collection: Presence of the Past
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Love: from conquest to cuddling
This section provides a number of examples of how love has been perceived and portrayed. First, a look at love as a concept of deception, aggression, and conquest, as described through Greek mythology and by the Roman poet Ovid. Next, we follow the transformation into the 'Court of Love', where honour, praise, humility, and loyalty reign. In this period, chivalry places love as a goal to fight for, not with; love is idealized and spiritualised. Finally, we look at how love then becomes embodied through works of art. Through song and story, love is set in an aesthetic medium, one that immortalizes the concept itself.
Introduction
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Love's Enduring Story
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Introduction
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: With Heart and Hand
Learning Object: Cupid, God of Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Statue of Cupid and Psyche
Statue of Cupid and Psyche
Cupid and Psyche refused to heed the warnings of their families. Though they stumbled along the way, they were united.

Photo Credit: Corey Chimko
Marble
125.4 cm
MC0408.

© Roma, Musei Capitolini, Archivio Fotografico dei Musei Capitolini.
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Learning Object Collection: Love's Enduring Story
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Introduction
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Love's Playful Game
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Love is War!: Ovid's Love Manual
CHIN
© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Love's Playful Game
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Red-figured Cup with Symposium Scene
Red-figured Cup with Symposium Scene
Red-figured Cup with Symposium Scene

Attributed to Brygos Painter (fl.490–470 B.C.E.)

D:32 cm. H:12.7 cm
GR 1848.6-19.7 (Vases E 68).

© The British Museum
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Love's Playful Game
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Introduction
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Courtly Love's Veneration of the Lady
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Shield of Parade: 'You or Death' — An Image of Courtly Love
Shield of Parade: 'You or Death' — An Image of Courtly Love
Shield of Parade: 'You or Death' — An Image of Courtly Love



The depiction of the knight kneeling before his lady recalls the golden age of courtly love. The scroll above the knight's head declares the knight would rather die than not win the lady's love. By glorifying the potential dangers of chivalrous love (personified by the figure of Death), the tradition of courtly love emphasizes the transitory nature of death, and the stability of divine love in the life to come.

The British Museum
Leather-covered wood
H: 83 cm
M&ME 1863,5-1,1

© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Court of Love: Valentine's Day, 1400
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Love's Playful Game
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Knight and Lady with Birds
Knight and Lady with Birds
Knight and Lady with Birds



In Fridrich Pfaff, Der Minnesang des 12. bis 14. Jahrhunderts (Stuttgart: Union Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1891–1895)



The knight kneels in homage to his lady, as he receives his helmet. In the background, birds frolic in a tree, reminiscent of the medieval tradition that the pairing of the birds occurred around Saint Valentine's Day.

Artwork: Grosse Heidelberger Liederhandschrift (Codex Manesse) Cod. Pal. germ. 848, 82v
Illumination



© Provincial Museum of Alberta
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Love's Playful Game
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Introduction
CHIN
© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Geoffrey Chaucer: Architect of Saint Valentine's Day
CHIN
© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Troubadour Songs of Love
CHIN
© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Minstrels Playing During a Banquet
Minstrels Playing During a Banquet
Minstrels Playing During a Banquet



Drawing of detail from “La condamnation de Bancquet” in Musée Lorrain de Nancy. In J.F. Rowbotham, The Troubadours and Courts of Love (London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1895): frontispiece.



The music and voices of the troubadours celebrate love in all its manifestations.

Photo Credit: Corey Chimko
Tapestry



© Provincial Museum of Alberta
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
In the Eye of the Beholder
This next section examines love not as a social construct per se but as an individual construct. How do we distinguish lust from love? What factors determine the degree to which love is formed? The two main examples given are through the stories of 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Frankenstein'. Both accounts examine the concept of love, beauty, and humanity. This is a great opportunity to open up the floor to students and their opinions of love.
Introduction
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Beauty Beheld
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Eye of the Beholder
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Beauty Beheld
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast



From Walter Crane's Beauty and the Beast (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1870): illustration 5.



Seeing the beauty in each person we encounter prevents the vicissitudes of life from overpowering us.

Artist: Walter Crane (1845–1915) Photo: Corey Chimko




© Provincial Museum of Alberta
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Beauty Beheld
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Love and Humanity: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Beauty Beheld
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein



In Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard, 1833): frontispiece.



The Frankenstein monster's rebellion in the face of constant rejection suggests that love and acceptance are necessary conditions for a happy, healthy human life.

Artist: T. Holst, Photo: Corey Chimko
Copper engraving



© Provincial Museum of Alberta
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Learning Object: Beauty Beheld
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Love in the 21st Century
Now is a good time to relate ideas and concepts discussed so far with modern issues. Love is universal, both in time and space, and as we know about our students, it is also a great factor in the life of most teenagers. Is love still seen the same way now as it was in other time periods? How are men and women seen as a sex, in terms of their roles in relationships? Have social media tools affected the way relationships are formed and advertised? Your students will love this opportunity to share their opinions about such a pertinent topic!

If you wish to discuss the influence of feminism on perceptions of love, the following files may be of use. They describe the works of Christine de Pizan, a proto-feminist of the Middle Ages.
Christine de Pizan: Equalizing Love in the City of Women
CHIN
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Le Livre de la Cité des Dames de Christine de Pizan
Le Livre de la Cité des Dames de Christine de Pizan
Le Livre de la Cité des Dames de Christine de Pizan



On the left, the three royal ladies visiting Christine de Pizan represent Reason, Rectitude and Justice. On the right, Christine and Reason build a utopia for women.

Master of the Cité des dames
Illumination
12 x 18 cm
Français 607, fol. 2.

© Bibliothèque nationale de France
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Learning Object Collection: Landscape of Romance and Love
Institution: RCIP-CHIN
Suggested Activity
In any of the social sciences, as with the natural sciences, it is important to model how research is carried out. How is it that sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists gather information for research? One method is through questionnaires. Assign your students into small groups. Next, have them come up with 20 - 30 questions about love based on what was discussed in class (you'll want to go over what questions are considered appropriate to ask). For example, if you want to relate modern views of love with aggression, you could have a questions such as, 'Do you think it's appropriate to fight for a potential partner?'. Hand them out to the class and school staff, and collect them during the week. Once the data has been collected, guide your students into how to interpret and present the findings. This is a great way to engage and motivate your students into the world of research!

Here's an idea!

Check out http://www.surveymonkey.com/. Here, you can create basic but stimulating surveys for free. Students can send them out to anyone they know, and you can send them to staff and other colleagues. More importantly, students will learn how to use technology in developing research methods. And it's fun!

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
- examine the philosophical nature of love as a concept, both in present day terms and throughout history
- interpret how society and individuals construct and manifest the idea of love, as it pertains to aggression, beauty, humility, humanity, and the aesthetic
- develop research skills, such as questioning techniques, data collection, and analyzing methods