In this class we will look at the ways weddings and marriages have been represented in art and culture throughout modernity. We will investigate marriage as a celebration of love and union and as a system of religious, patriarchal, hetero-normative, and capitalistic exploitation and oppression. Through the analysis of key texts we will seek to understand why our longstanding cultural obsession with marriage—an institution often deemed outmoded—has persisted. Segments of the course will be devoted to representations of weddings and marriage in plays by Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca and Edward Albee; in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice ; in artworks by Jan van Eyck, Frieda Kahlo, and David Magnusson; in essays by Marx and Engels, Emma Goldman, and Joan Didion; in Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and David Fincher’s Gone Girl ; and in contemporary popular music. We will also look at recent studies on marriage and divorce rates, discuss Bruce Benderson’s polemic, Against Marriage , opinions from the recent Supreme Court case affirming marriage equality, and examine fissures in the LGBTQ community around the question of marriage. At the same time, students will learn how to write the academic essay by completing a series of writing assignments around topics drawn from our objects of study.