A young man and woman sit next to each other in a garden, reading a love story. They look up from the page, their eyes meet, and ... "we read no more in the book that day," the young woman later tells the poet Dante, who records their story in the Divine Comedy. Francesca and Paolo were condemned to hell for their adulterous affair, but they were not the first couple, nor the last, to be seduced by tales of sex, love and romance. In this course, we will enjoy stories of passion, obsession, perversity, sexual games and romantic transgression. From a proper English drawing room to a decidedly improper transsexual cabaret, from a sultan's bedchamber to a New Jersey funeral parlour, we'll meet some famous lovers and some infamous ones. We'll contemplate the diverse and sometimes ambiguous nature of passion, delve into the joys and pains of romance, and consider the connections between love, desire and storytelling.