PHIL 947S – Seminar Philosophy and Literature

Disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are defined and distinguished not by necessary and sufficient conditions that define what the discipline is or is about, but rather by family resemblances in subject matter and among certain kinds or modes of speaking, writing, and expressing. We will look at what (if anything) defines the subject matter, the boundary(ies), the methodology(ies), and the products of analytic philosophical discourse and literature (mostly novels & plays), respectively. One central question is this: Are there ways of treating philosophical problems in ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics that are well-suited, even more well-suited, to expression in literature than in standard analytic philosophical discourse? What can literature teach about philosophical problems that relate to mind, morals, and the meaning of life? What kind of knowledge, if any, does literature provide or produce? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different idioms, different disciplines for addressing different philosophical problems? Prior to the seminar all students will be asked to study A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, which will function as the seminar’s exemplar for analytic philosophy. Readings from Aristotle, Euripides, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Neitzsche, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Wittgenstein, Beckett, Camus, de Beauvoir, Sartre. (Taught by Owen Flanagan)

ARTHIST 540S – Topics in Nineteenth-Century Art

This course focuses on the Paris Salon, the artists who exhibited in it, the critics who wrote about it, and the bureaucrats, officials and politicians responsible for its organization. The period covered will be 1815-1900, though these dates can be modified depending on the interests of the students enrolled. The major objective of the course is to equip students with a better understanding of the social, aesthetic, literary and philosophical debates of the period that shaped discussion of the arts in order to allow a more nuanced reading of the art criticism generated around the Salon exhibition. This fascinating genre of art writing — vast in scale and often highly sophisticated in conception — offers vital insights into 19th-century visual culture, audience expectations, conventions of viewing and thinking about art. in class, we will look in detail at key texts, and think about ways in which art criticism can be used as an important tool in the study of French art of the period. As a consequence, students must have a good reading knowledge of French. (Taught by Professor McWilliam)