Don Juan and Casanova: The Seducer in Literature and Film - CP655

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) MISS J Pettitt checkmark-circle


Don Juan and Casanova are archetypes of the male seducer who, in the Western European tradition, stand for different interpretations of excessive passion. Don Juan hunts for virgins, nuns, and other women who are difficult to get (in that they belong to other men). Casanova, in turn, was attracted to the easy accessibility of moments of intense pleasure, which, although within potential reach to all, only few knew how to enjoy.

In this module we shall chart the metamorphoses of these two almost mythical figures since their emergence in seventeenth-century Spain and eighteenth-century Italy to explore the relationship between literature, music, film, and the erotic within different cultural and historical contexts. In our close analyses of plays, novellas, opera, and film, we will engage with the works of Freud and Jung, and we will consider gender as both a structure of power and, for Casanova, as a potentially fluid construct. More broadly, we will consider the historical, social and political contexts that frame various incarnations of Don Juan and Casanova, and we will use these central figures to answer important questions about the depiction of society, religion, sexuality, and morality.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%
Essay (3,000 words) – 80%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Any edition:

Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus
Giacomo Casanova: History of my Life (extracts)
Federico Fellini, Fellini's Casanova
Molière: Don Juan
Tirso de Molina: The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest
Alexander Pushkin: The Stone Guest
Arthur Schnitzler: Casanova's Homecoming

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Analyse critically a selection of representations of Don Juan and Casanova as archetypes of the male seducer in literature, music, and film;
Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the gender-historical and wider philosophical questions that are at stake in such representations;
Demonstrate detailed understanding of what motivates the creation of these archetypes, such as the projection of male/female anxieties concerning sexuality or conflicting relations between individual and society;
Engage at an advanced critical level with the literary texts, music, and films discussed through close interpretations of these works;
Demonstrate systematic knowledge of key theoretical concepts relevant to the study of Don Juan and Casanova.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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