Philosophy and literature: from romanticism to (post)modernity
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HP105
Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)
What is the course about?
Conventionally to the question, ‘What is self?’ philosophers give a variety of answers. Some claim that such a thing does not exist at all, while others say the opposite and attempt to give us an account of the self by grounding it in God, spirit, substance, nature or brain, or body, or some combinations of these.
Charles Taylor suggests, the modern notion of the self is unthinkable without Plato’s idea of the rational self, but it was Augustine who stressed the opposition between the inner and outer man. The inner is the soul, whereas the outer is the bodily things, including our senses and even the memory storage. Taylor writes, ‘We are creatures with inner depths; with partly unexplored and dark interiors.’
These questions are taken up in the unprecedented reciprocity between philosophy and literature in the so-called romantic era (1800-1850) and are carried through existentialism to (post) modernism. In the poetry of Blake and Wordsworth can be found profound enactments of complex philosophical ideas. This enactment of self-hood and subjectivity is recreated through shifts in metaphor from Nietzsche to the Frankfurt school and beyond. In exploring this reciprocity, we will look at links between the following:
• Wordsworth and German Idealism
• Blake and Nietzsche
• Wallace Stevens and Heidegger
• Adorno, Kafka and Beckett
• Borges the Self and Metaphysics.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Post enlightenment redefinition of reason- the new emphasis on feeling, emotion and the drives.
Key concepts of cultural history – Enlightenment, Romanticism, Existentialism, Modernity, Post Modernity.
The way literature has contributed new vocabularies for selfhood and interiority Aesthetic conception of spirituality outside the confines of organized religion
The celebration of artistic creativity as a road to truth.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
By the end of the 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.
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 very useful overview can be found in Robert C Solomon – ‘Continental Philosophy since 1750 – The Rise and fall of the Self’. It is overpriced but second-hand copies are easily purchased. Nietzsche’s ‘On truth and lying in the non-moral sense’ is available on the internet if you want a challenging but highly rewarding journey into philosophy as literature.
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 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.