Philosophy and literature: from existentialism to (post)modernism

Course Dates: 27/09/24 - 06/12/24
Time: 12:45 - 14:45
Location: Keeley Street
Literature provides a very effective springboard into the understanding of the developing notions of selfhood and human nature in the history of ideas and philosophy sharpens our understanding of literature within the broader context of this history.
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Full fee £259.00 Senior fee £207.00 Concession £168.00

Philosophy and literature: from existentialism to (post)modernism
  • Course Code: HP105
  • Dates: 27/09/24 - 06/12/24
  • Time: 12:45 - 14:45
  • Taught: Fri, Daytime
  • Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Barrie Selwyn

Course Code: HP105

Fri, day, 27 Sep - 06 Dec '24

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Throughout the history of ideas we witness a remarkable reciprocity between philosophy and literature. This reciprocity emerges most powerfully after the French revolution where English poetry becomes a mirror and a prism for post Kantian idealism. Furthermore, some of the great European novels of the 19th century actually anticipate some of the key themes of twentieth century continental philosophy. From Coleridge and Blake to Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges we will engage with cases studies of how this reciprocity manifests itself.

What will we cover?

English Poets and German idealism-

Coleridge,Blake, Keats, and the Romantic Absolute

Charlotte Bronte’s ‘heteropia’-exploring Jane Eye through the lens of Michel Foucault

The Presence of Schopenhauer in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

Philosophical Perspectives on the writings of Franz kafka – Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt School

The literary philosophical experiments of Jorge Luis Borges.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Identify philosophical themes in literary works

Use a range of opinion to analyse primary texts

Use the course as a springboard to further study

Use the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy and other useful websites.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

A general appreciation of literature and a willingness engage with ideas and concepts is all that is required. An open mind and being prepared to listen and respond to ideas with which you may not always agree are more important than specific levels of skill.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course to taught by interactive lecture. Learning material will be posted on google classroom in advance of each session to help learners prepare for the session, The course will involve enjoyable challenges.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. You may want to bring a pen and notebook. The key literary texts are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; The Trial by Franz Kafka; and Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borge. Andrea Wulf’s Magnificent Rebels – The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self is excellent background reading. The entry on Schopenhauer in the online Stanford enyclopaedia is also very helpful.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in HP130 Philosophy and cultural theory, with the same tutor.

Barrie Selwyn

Barrie Selwyn is a regular tutor at City Lit. Formerly the Principal of Kingston Adult Education, he is the lead tutor for the School of Ideas at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College. Educated at Hackney Downs School, Sussex University and University of London, he is a highly respected adult educationalist specializing in philosophy and literature. Barrie is the Chair of the Kingston Philosophy Café, which he helped to set up in 2007. He is a regular speaker around London philosophy venues, talking on topics such as Nietzsche and the Frankfurt School, Kant and post-Kantian Idealism and Richard Rorty and post-analytic philosophy. He is also an alto saxophonist and a keen jazz fan.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.