PHIL 253: Philosophy and Literature

PHIL 253-B01: Philosophy and Literature
(Summer 2020)


Section Information for Summer 2020

Fulfills the Mason Core Literature requirement.

Close reading of plays (Antigone by Sophocles, The Life of Galileo by Brecht, and Waiting for Godot by Beckett), novels (Heart of Darkness by Conrad and The Stranger by Camus), novellas or short stories (The Beast in the Jungle by James, The Metamorphosis by Kafka, and Tonio Kroeger by Mann), a text from sacred literature (the biblical Book of Job), and poetry (by Emily Dickenson and by Wallace Stevens) are of major help in learning how to ask and explore the question concerning who the human being is. The critical relation of this question to the question concerning how best to live our lives is addressed. 

Texts are discussed in reference to the historical settings and the times in which they were written: regarding Antigone and the Book of Job, the opening of the “Western World” when ideas and institutions first took shape that are still features of the world in which we find ourselves now; regarding The Life of Galileo, the opening of the modern world by way of the birth of modern science in the Copernican Revolution in astronomy; regarding Heart of DarknessThe Beast in the JungleThe Metamorphosis and Tonio Kroeger, the first decade of the twentieth century when the modern world had been up and running for three hundred years and was about to accelerate in the twentieth century, a time marked by expanding influence from ideas associated with Darwin’s understanding of evolution and Freud’s understanding of the psychoanalytic study of the unconscious; and regarding The Life of GalileoThe Stranger and Waiting for Godot, the mid-twentieth century. 

The course addresses the importance of the role literature can play in society in reference to the way that literary language and literary techniques or devices can disclose imaginative possibilities in our own lives. 

PHIL 253 B01 is a distance education section.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examines differences and relations between literary and philosophical texts. Examines texts from a given period in the history of literature and philosophy. Topics include the presence of common issues in literary and philosophical writings, the influence of philosophical ideas on the production of literary texts and literary theory, and the development in literary texts of issues that are possible objects of philosophical inquiry. Limited to three attempts.
Mason Core: Literature
Schedule Type: Lecture

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