FYS Section A22. Love, Madness and Quixotic Desire
1. Of an action, attribute, idea, etc.: characteristic of or appropriate to Don Quixote; demonstrating or motivated by exaggerated notions of chivalry and romanticism; naively idealistic; unrealistic, impracticable; (also) unpredictable, capricious, whimsical.
In our time, social pressures to be part of a group and conform to an established identity often lead us to label as “crazy” those who stray from what we perceive as normal. But what is identity, and how are identity categories assigned? What is madness, and who gets to decide if you are crazy or not? Who gets to decide who you are?. Four centuries ago, Miguel de Cervantes was probably asking these questions as he was writing Don Quixote, the story of an avid reader of medieval romance stories, full of knights, chivalry, passionate love, supernatural creatures, castles and jousts, who read “until his brain dried up and he lost his wits.” Obsessed with these stories, Don Quixote decided to become a knight himself, righting wrongs and protecting the oppressed. In this class we will become active readers of Don Quixote´s “insanity,” reflecting on the role of gender, race, religion, class and nationality in shaping identity.
Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies