Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Rituals, symbols, art forms, and narratives devoted to celebrating and reflecting upon the meanings of romantic love have existed throughout time and across cultural spaces. Deciphering those meanings concerns semiotics, the science of interpretation. This chapter deals with the meanings of love as they present themselves in diverse representational forms across the world in order to understand what they tell us about love as a universal emotional phenomenon. The practices, symbols, and cultural texts derived from the feelings evoked by romantic love suggest, clearly, that it is more than a reaction to sexual instincts and urges. This is perhaps why love-based traditions have brought about social revolutions and have had effects on how we have evolved psychologically and culturally. The actual biological source of love remains a mystery, but we can unravel its raison d’être somewhat by understanding why it is so meaningful for all of us.

Keywords: semiotics, romantic love, symbols, representation, art, rituals, narratives

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.