Philosophy of Literature
Philosophy of Literature is a doctoral-level graduate course devoted to the philosophical assessment of literature and literary language, along with the relationship and distinction between philosophy and literature posed since the beginnings of the Western philosophical tradition. Readings will be drawn for the most part from Continental philosophy since Kant up to the present. The selection of readings includes influential works which have contributed to the conceptual framework for the philosophical treatment of literature, in particular those works which have presented the importance of literature in ontological and phenomenological terms, and those post-structuralist accounts which explicitly depart from them. With reference to a background of classic and romantic aesthetics in the post-Kantian tradition, we will discuss the views of Heidegger, Sartre, Ingarden, Blanchot, Bachelard, Barthes, Foucault, Gadamer, Iser, Agamben, and Schaeffer in order to gauge the significance of literature and literary language for recent Continental philosophy, and critically assess what is at stake in the most significant discussions. Topics include the autonomy of literature, the nature of literary language, the distinction between poetry and prose, the relation of literature to history, the distinctions among literary, scientific, and everyday language, phenomenology of the literary experience, the status of author and reader in the constitution of the literary work, and the specificity of the literary medium in the context of aesthetics.