PH107-15 Problems in Philosophy and Literature
PH107 - Problems in Philosophy and Literature
This module is the 1st-year, jointly taught module that is core for the BA in Philosophy and Literature and BA in Philosophy, Literature and Classics. It is designed to introduce students to combined study of the disciplines. We discuss basic conceptions of philosophy and literature and how they relate, and we address four specific topics of importance to this relation (e.g., considering topics such as emotion and reason, belief and unbelief, self-knowledge, ethics and aesthetics, poetic language).
This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.
Philosophy and Literature: basic ideas and questions
Emotion and Reason
Weeks 2 and 3: J. M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
Thomas Nagel, ‘What is it like to be a bat?’
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Belief and Unbelief
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)
Ethics and Aesthetics
Weeks 7 and 8: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
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
Week 9: William Wordsworth, “The Brothers”
Week 10: Martin Heidegger, “. . . Poetically Man Dwells . . .”; Friedrich Hölderlin, 'In Lovely Blue'
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
- Understand how central themes are addressed in the core texts, and understand how philosophical and literary concerns combine in addressing these themes;
- Articulate their own views on how to interpret and evaluate the achievements of the core texts, showing ability to support claims with textual detail, enter into debate and respond constructively to other points of view;
- Critically analyse and evaluate philosophical and interpretive arguments on central issues in philosophy and literature;
- Recognize the distinctive contributions made by texts that have combined philosophical and literary significance.
Indicative reading list
(included in syllabus above)
Co-taught across two departments.
Core texts can be drawn from non-UK and non-European traditions (e.g., works by Japanese, Argentinian and North American writers have been core texts on the module).
Subject specific skills
- Understanding of what it means to bring the disciplines of philosophy and literature together
- Apply philosophical concepts and arguments to literary works and vice versa
- Ability to critically discuss literary and philosophical texts
- Ability to support claims with textual detail, enter into debate and respond constructively to other points of view
- Close reading, analysis and interpretation of complex texts
- Ability to discuss complex texts and identify themes
- Ability to communicate (both oral and written communication)
|English and Comparative Literary Studies||50%|
|Lectures||9 sessions of 1 hour 30 minutes (9%)|
|Other activity||30 minutes (0%)|
|Private study||136 hours (91%)|
Private study description
No private study requirements defined for this module.
Other activity description
No further costs have been identified for this module.
You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.
Assessment group A2
|Written Assignment (2500 words)||90%|
|Written Assignment (500 words)||10%|
Close reading exercise
Feedback on assessment
Written feedback on essays (using standard Philosophy feedback cover-page)
This module is Core for:
- Year 1 of UPHA-VQ72 Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature
- Year 1 of UPHA-VQ52 Undergraduate Philosophy, Literature and Classics
This module is Optional for:
- Year 1 of UPHA-VL78 BA in Philosophy with Psychology
- Year 1 of UCXA-Q820 Undergraduate Classical Civilisation
- Year 1 of UHIA-V1V5 Undergraduate History and Philosophy
UPHA-V700 Undergraduate Philosophy
- Year 1 of V700 Philosophy
- Year 1 of V700 Philosophy