Fall 2023 Undergraduate English Courses

359:312 Literature and Philosophy

01   CAC   W 3,4    08214    YOUSEF   ED-025B

Topics in Literature and Philosophy

An introduction to the some of the most intriguing points of intersection between philosophy and literature. The course will address the following questions: What can literary forms of writing achieve that non-literary forms cannot? What is (or can be, or should be) the effect of imaginative literature? Should we think of it as conveying (special kinds of) truth, or does the value of literature depend on a refusal to offer abstract theories and clear positions? Students will read influential works of philosophy and literature that address fundamental questions about the relationships of human beings to one another (ethics), the possibilities and limits of human knowledge (epistemology), and the tensions between individuality and community. Readings will vary from semester to semester and will range across different historical periods and genres (possible authors include Plato, Sophocles, Descartes, Rousseau, Austen, Nietzsche, Emerson, Hardy, Heidegger, Murdoch). The topic for 2023 will center around the (a)morality of literature: Can a literary text be evaluated on ethical grounds, and how? How do literary texts make ethical arguments? What does it mean to read literary texts in an ethical mode?