FA20 PHIL405

Philosophy of Literature
Professor: Nellie Wieland
Tuesdays & Thursdays  · 11:00am–12:15am  ·  LA5–355

This course asks questions about literature and fiction such as:

What is literature?
What is a work of fiction?
What is the ontology of fiction?
What is the logic of assertion, truth, and meaning in fictional worlds?
How do we psychologically participate in fictions?
How can fictional works make philosophical claims in ways that traditional philosophical texts cannot?

Much of the course will involve reading philosophical works that address these kinds of questions. We will read work from a number of philosophers of literature and fiction, including, Kendall Walton, Plato, Nietzsche, David Lewis, Amie Thomasson, Derek Matravers, Jorge Luis Borges, and others.

We will also read a lot of actual literature. We will read both full-length novels and short stories as a way of examining various philosophical issues. Be prepared to read, because there will be a lot of reading for this course and a lot of it will be difficult. We’re not reading airport books or philosophy lite. If you don’t love to read, this is not the course for you. But if you do love to read, and want to learn more about philosophical perspectives on and in literature, then this course will be a little painful and a little awesome. 

No special philosophical or literary background is required for this course. But, in general, both kinds of background will add to your enjoyment. We will write regularly, maybe every week or so building up to an original intensive term paper.