Philosophy and literature: from romanticism to existentialism

Course Dates: 29/09/23 - 08/12/23
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
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Full fee £259.00 Senior fee £207.00 Concession £168.00

This course has now finished

Philosophy and literature: from romanticism to existentialism
This course has finished
  • Course Code: HP105
  • Dates: 29/09/23 - 08/12/23
  • Time: 12:30 - 14:30
  • Taught: Fri, Daytime
  • Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Barrie Selwyn

Course Code: HP105

Finished Fri, day, 29 Sep - 08 Dec '23

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

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What is the course about?

“About two hundred years ago, the idea that truth was made rather than found began to take a hold of the imagination of Europe. The French revolution had shown that the whole vocabulary of social relations, and the whole spectrum of social institutions, could be replaced over-night. This precedent made utopian politics the rule rather than the exception among intellectuals. Utopian politics sets aside questions about both the will of God and the nature of man and dreams of creating a hitherto unknown society.
About the same time, the Romantic poets were showing what happens when art is no longer thought of as imitation but, rather, as the artist’s self creation. The poets claimed for art the place in culture traditionally held by religion and philosophy, and the place which the Enlightenment had claimed for science.”
Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, 1989

The critique and revision of the Enlightenment began with movements that became known as Romanticism. The subsequent secularization and aestheticization of spirituality led directly to Existentialism and the challenge of Nihilism. This is what this course will chart in a series of inter related studies of some of the figures of this era.

What will we cover?

Blake to Nietzsche – critiques of enlightenment
Wordsworth and German Idealism
Keats to Yeats – the Aesthetics of Mortality
Fear and Trembling with Kierkegaard
Dostoyevsky and Camus – Notes from the Underground and the Fall.
Heidegger and Wallace Stevens – Poetry as Philosophy.

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

Understand and apply key philosophical concepts of this era
Identify and analyse the philosophical underpinnings of key literary texts of this era
Use secondary sources to access and understand primary sources
Proceed with confidence to develop an independent learning programme in this area of study.

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

This course is intended as both an introduction to philosophy and an invitation to reapply existing knowledge. An open mind and an interest in the interrelation of literature (particularly poetry) and philosophy would be essential. A willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree is more important than specific levels of skills.

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

Teaching will be by interactive lecture and class discussion. Texts wherever possible will be made available a week in advance.

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

A note book and a file to keep handouts would be essential

Key texts for optional advance reading:
William Blake - Marriage of Heaven and Hell
Magnificent Rebels – The first Romantics and the invention of the Self - Andrea Wulf
The Roots of Romanticism – Isaiah Berlin.

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.