ENG 118: Literature and Philosophy

Literature and Philosophy


But only philosophy can go deep enough to show that literature goes still deeper than philosophy. — Michel Serres


The history of ideas in the Western tradition has from its inception hosted a dynamic relationship between literature and philosophy. This course traces the genealogy of the relationship between literature and philosophy, as well as their intersections, tensions, affinities, and inter-textuality.

How do literature and philosophy, in similar and different ways, explain and interrogate the human condition and the category of the human being? Why do literary objects fit well in the explication of philosophy? How does philosophy inhabit and bring meaning to literary worlds? Where do we place poetic philosophers and philosophical novels or poems in the literature and philosophy discussion? Readings range from ancient philosophy and epic poetry to contemporary philosophy and literature, leading students to familiarity with important formations connected to antiquity, and the medieval, renaissance, enlightenment, romanticist, and modern periods.


Course Materials:


o   The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney

o   The Republic: A New Translation by Plato and William C.Scott

o   The Iliad: A New Translation by Homer and Peter Green

o   The Odyssey by Homer and Robert Fagles

o   Man's Fate by André Malraux

o   The Plague by Albert Camus

o   Maru by Bessie Head

o   Additional readings available on CatCourses

o   Access to the academic journal Philosophy and Literature