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Problems in Philosophy and Literature (PH107)

What do philosophical texts and literary works have in common? How can they be read together in a fruitful way? Philosophers from Parmenides to Berkeley, Nietzsche to Heidegger, have used literary forms, such as poetry and dialogue, to express their philosophical ideas. Others, such as Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Iris Murdoch have written novels to complement their standard philosophical works. It is common for philosophers to make use of literature as a way of exploring philosophical ideas, concepts and theories. Likewise, literary critics make use of philosophical concepts, ideas, and theories as a way of deepening their engagement with literary texts.

Jointly taught by staff from Philosophy and English, the module introduces students to the combined study of philosophy and literature. It will study how central themes are addressed in core texts, (such as J. M. Coetzee's The Lives of Animals and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye), and understand how philosophical and literary concerns combine in the address of these themes. The module will reflect on what benefit can be gained from drawing on the methods and concerns of both disciplines, and will address themes and questions of shared importance within philosophy and literature. The module is available only to first-year students on the Philosophy and Literature BA course and offers a good opportunity to get to know fellow students on the course in the first term.

Problems in Philosophy and Literature

Module Director:

Eileen John


The module is worth 15 CATS.