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Expert: ‘Love being in love’ reflects cultural truth

University professor awarded for paper on romantic literature
Monday, November 25, 2013

It seems our “modern” concept of love is not so modern after all. In fact, the concept of love in today’s society reflects the influence of the writings of the Church Fathers, or patristics, from hundreds of years ago.

According to Dr. Stephen Trobisch, Missouri State University professor of modern and classical languages, romantic epics were influenced by patristics, such as St. Augustine and his phrase “to love love.” Love itself is represented as an addiction – one that is selfish, not selfless – and only serves to aid the individual and not their significant other.

“Romantic infatuation seems to fill a psychological void,” said Trobisch. “It seems to be a collective void felt throughout our culture. Romantic love seems to fill that void as a sort of convenient, ecstatic remedy.”

For Trobisch, this concept of “love being in love” has shaped our entire pop culture. He cites the “Twilight” series of books and films as a modern-day example. In the second book of the series, the main character Bella Swan experiences the “filling of the void:” “It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect—not healed, but as if there had been no wound in the first place.”

Trobisch became interested in the topic when he came across a German version of the classic story “Tristan and Isolde,” the original template for “Romeo and Juliet.” The story, simply called “Tristan,” was first written down by Gottfriend von Strassburg; however, there are many variations to this story from several countries.

“It showed me that it not only comes from oral tradition, this romantic infatuation,” said Trobisch. “But that it also reflects a cultural truth: The love potion consumed by Tristan and Isolde still impacts our delirious fixation on this ‘love of being in love.’”

Missouri State’s own theatre and dance department performed “Romeo and Juliet” on Nov. 21-24. Stories and plays such as these still connect with their audience, and Trobisch hopes that his research, which recently received best paper honors at the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavior Research’s fall international conference, gives people pause and causes them to think about love and how it is truly represented not only in older literature but in today’s culture as well.

For more information, contact Dr. Trobisch at (417) 836-5122 or StephenTrobisch@MissouriState.edu.

“Hot Topic – Expert Source” releases are a tool the office of university communications provides to assist media in locating a university source to comment on a particular subject or issue. The opinions expressed by the expert are those of a specific individual and are not necessarily representative of the views of the university.

About Missouri State University
Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive metropolitan system with a statewide mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons. The university’s identity is distinguished by its public affairs mission, which entails a campus-wide commitment to foster expertise and responsibility in ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement.
College of Arts and Letters
The College of Arts and Letters supports more than 45 undergraduate and 10 graduate programs. The college incorporates seven academic departments, including art and designcommunication;Englishmedia, journalism and filmmodern and classical languagesmusic; and theatre and dance, and five interdisciplinary programs: antiquitieselectronic artsglobal studieslinguistics; andmusical theatre. The College of Arts and Letters promotes learning, scholarship and service to the broader community in all aspects of human communication — spoken, written, visual, musical, dramatic and electronic.
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Media Contact

  • Dr. Stephen Trobisch
  • (417) 836-5122


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