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Explores the variety of bonds that are formed between writers and the figure of the dead lover

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Copyright © 2006, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted September 2006.

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From Eurydice to Laura and beyond, dead lovers call forth powerful expressions of grief, sorrow, love, and longing. They occasion mourning and other rituals and seem to be intrinsically bound up with changing ideas of subjecthood itself. Dead Lovers explores the complex attachments to the figure of the dead lover in Western literature, art, and other forms of cultural expression from classical antiquity through the Middle Ages and into the early modern period.


By reflecting on the study of dead lovers, these essays also trace the development of themes and claims relating to our own investment in a “dead” but eroticized past that we seek to recover. The collection offers a sustained discussion of how scholarly interest in the representation of loss and erotic bonds raises pressing questions about nostalgia, performance, the role of affect in intellectual work, and the gendered cultural values that script the description and experience of the erotic. In its focus on loss as a site of affect and imagination, Dead Lovers offers an original and provocative contribution to the history of scholarship.


Basil Dufallo is Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan.


Peggy McCracken is Professor of French and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.