FA21 PHIL610

Note: This course is currently scheduled for in-person instruction.

Proseminar (PHIL610): Philosophy of Fiction
Prof. Nell Wieland

Mondays  ·  5:30pm–8:15pm  ·  LA5–148

PHIL610 is designed to initiate first-semester graduate students into the program, and, more generally, philosophy as it is practiced at higher levels of professional academic competence. The initiation into advanced philosophy will be achieved by equipping students with the skills in analysis, composition, and research that are appropriate for meeting the expectations of our MA program. Students will be trained in how to conduct themselves in a graduate-level setting, how to analyze texts through presentations and discussion, how to write focused, argumentative papers, how to conduct philosophical research, how to properly cite sources, and other related skills. Students will learn the expectations of the department and its faculty, including the requirements of the program, the department’s basic qualifying examination (BQE), the thesis option and non-thesis comprehensive exams. Students will practice the mechanics of in-class presentation, oral defense, term paper writing, and/or poster presentation.

The primary focus of this seminar is skill development. To that end, we will complete small assignments and exercises on a weekly basis. The content of the course is a vehicle for skill development, and vice-versa. The theme for the proseminar for FA21 is Philosophy of Fiction. We will read and discuss classic and contemporary texts related to this topic.

This course is run as a seminar, not as a lecture. This means that students will be expected to come to every class meeting prepared to discuss the readings and other assignments in a roundtable setting. All students should plan on participating at every class meeting. All students should come prepared with questions, insights, and topics for class discussion for every class meeting. In graduate level seminars the professor serves largely as a facilitator for a course that is run jointly by the professor and students.

Each class meeting will have two components: a skills component and a discussion component. Typically, one half of the class meeting will be devoted to developing skill sets in graduate-level work, and the other half of the class will be devoted to discussing the week’s readings. Sometimes these two components of the class meeting will be integrated with one another (e.g., on student presentation days). We will take a short break at approximately the halfway mark.

More on the FA21 theme: Philosophy of Fiction is an interesting and wide-ranging topic that carries into all areas of philosophy. We will discuss topics including the generation of fictional entities, the ontology of fictions, participating in fictions, fiction and the imagination, the paradox of fiction, the puzzle of imaginative resistance, and understanding narrative. Our primary texts will include Walton’s Mimesis and Make-Believe, Matravers’s Fiction and Narrative, and a number of supporting papers.