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Course materials 2015/16


The class will begin with an introductory session, raising some of the big questions about the study of philosophy and literature. The rest of the term will be divided into four units, focusing on the following topics:

  • emotion and reason
  • belief and unbelief
  • ethics and aesthetics
  • poetic language

This module is a jointly taught class that meets on Wednesdays in Term 1, starting in Week 1. There will be a mix of lectures, discussion and groupwork. Please read the core readings before class and be prepared to discuss them.

Course materials

You will need to purchase two texts:

  • J. M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Any editions of these texts are fine. The Book Shop on campus will have copies for sale, and used copies should be readily available. We will start with The Lives of Animals. These two books are relatively short but challenging. Give yourself time to read all of the assigned readings at least once before we discuss them in class. Other readings, including selections from Flannery O'Conner, Iris Murdoch, William Wordsworth and Martin Heidegger, will be made available in class or below.


Week 1 Introduction to module

Emotion and Reason (EJ)

Week 2: J. M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals

Week 3: The Lives continued

Extracts from:

Aristotle, Poetics (a hand-out will be given in class)

Thomas Nagel, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Belief and Unbelief (EM)

Week 4: Flannery O'Connor, short stories: “A Good Man is Hard to Find”; “Everything That Rises Must Converge”; the three O'Connor stories are all included in a pdf here

Week 5: Flannery O'Connor, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”; “Novelist and Believer”; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “Faith in Man” (1959, trans. 1964) 

Week 6 Reading week (no class meeting)

Ethics and Aesthetics (EJ)

Week 7: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Week 8: The Bluest Eye continued

Extracts from:

Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste

Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good

Poetic Language (EM)

Week 9: William Wordsworth, “The Brothers”

Week 10: Martin Heidegger, “. . . Poetically Man Dwells . . .”; Friedrich Hölderlin, 'In Lovely Blue'

Term 2

Week 1: Essay due (Thursday noon, electronic submission)

New Reading List Software – Talis Aspire

The Philosophy department is trialling the use of a new reading list software for 15/16. While we aim to make sure this list is up to date, it is a transitional year, and so the traditional static reading list on these pages may be more accurate. However, the reading list is also available at: