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Three's a Crowd

Class brings home why love triangles fuel our imaginations

July 1, 2010 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Love triangles make good movies, good books -- good gossip. Ask moviegoers waiting in line to see “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” this week, and you’re likely to get very real opinions about the fictional love triangle of Edward, Jacob and Bella. 

Ask Laura Kipnis, the author of “The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability” and “Against Love: A Polemic,” about the subject, and you will get an erudite look at why the romantic love triangle is a story engine that fires our imaginations. The Northwestern University School of Communication professor led a writing and production class this spring on the subject.

“It’s such a plot motor,” she said. Think “Casablanca” and Humphrey Bogart pining for Ingrid Bergman while she was married to another man.

Besides watching films, students in Kipnis’ class read Stephen Mitchell's “Can Love Last?”, a book that raises philosophical questions about love and intimacy. Later in the quarter the students wrote their own triangle scripts.

“The love triangle generates all sorts of narrative possibilities,” Kipnis said. “It’s an opportunity for students to consider their own ideas about subjects like monogamy and fidelity, whether love and desire can persist over time, why people who are in couples stray.”

For more information on the class, go to:

Topics: Campus Life, University News