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A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature

Garry L. Hagberg (Editor), Walter Jost (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4443-1560-8
568 pages
November 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to the Philosophy of Literature (1444315609) cover image
This monumental collection of new and recent essays from an international team of eminent scholars represents the best contemporary critical thinking relating to both literary and philosophical studies of literature.
  • Helpfully groups essays into the field's main sub-categories, among them ‘Relations Between Philosophy and Literature’, ‘Emotional Engagement and the Experience of Reading’, ‘Literature and the Moral Life’, and ‘Literary Language’
  • Offers a combination of analytical precision and literary richness
  • Represents an unparalleled work of reference for students and specialists alike, ideal for course use
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Notes on Contributors.


Introduction (Garry L. Hagberg, Bard College and Walter Jost, University of Virginia).

Part I: Relations between Philosophy and Literature:.

1. Philosophy as Literature and More than Literature (Richard Shusterman, Florida Atlantic University).

2. Philosophy and Literature: Friends of the Earth? Roger A. Shiner (University of British Columbia Okanagan).

3. Philosophy and Literature – and Rhetoric: Adventures in Polytopia (Walter Jost, University of Virginia).

4. Philosophy and/as/of Literature (Arthur C. Danto, Columbia University).

Part II: Emotional Engagement and the Experience of Reading:.

5. Emotion and the Understanding of Narrative (Jenefer Robinson, University of Cincinnati).

6. Feeling Fictions (Roger Scruton, American Enterprise Institute).

7. The Experience of Reading (Peter Kivy, Rutgers University).

8. Self-Defining Reading: Literature and the Constitution of Personhood (Garry L. Hagberg, Bard College).

Part III: Philosophy, Tragedy, and Literary Form:.

9. Tragedy and Philosophy (Anthony J. Cascardi, University of California, Berkeley).

10. Iago’s Elenchus: Shakespeare, Othello, and the Platonic Inheritance (M. W. Rowe, University of East Anglia).

11. Catharsis (Jonathan Lear, University of Chicago).

12. Passion, Counter-Passion, Catharsis: Flaubert (and Beckett) on Feeling Nothing (Joshua Landy, Stanford University).

Part IV: Literature and the Moral Life:.

13. Perceptive Equilibrium: Literary Theory and Ethical Theory (Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago).

14. Henry James, Moral Philosophers, Moralism (Cora Diamond, University of Virginia).

15. Literature and the Idea of Morality (Eileen John (University of Warwick).

16. Styles of Self-Absorption (Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago).

Part V: Narrative and the Question of Literary Truth.

17. Narration, Imitation, and Point of View (Gregory Currie, University of Nottingham).

18. How and What We Can Learn From Fiction (Mitchell Green, University of Virginia).

19. Literature and Truth (Peter Lamarque, University of York).

20. Truth in Poetry: Particulars and Universals: Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College).

Part VI: Intention and Biography in Criticism:.

21. Authorial Intention and the Varieties of Intentionalism (Paisley Livingston, Lingnan University).

22. Art as Techne, or, the Intentional Fallacy and the Unfinished Project of Formalism (Henry Staten, University of Washington).

23. Biography in Literary Criticism (Stein Haugom Olsen, University of Bergen).

24. Getting Inside Heisenberg’s Head (Ray Monk, University of Southampton).

Part VII: On Literary Language:.

25. Wittgenstein and Literary Language (Jon Cook, University of East Anglia ) and Rupert Read, University of East Anglia).

26. Exemplification and Expression (Charles Altieri, University of California, Berkeley).

27. At Play in the Fields of Metaphor (Ted Cohen, University of Chicago).

28. Macbeth Appalled (Stanley Cavell, Harvard University).


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Garry L. Hagberg is the James H. Ottaway Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at Bard College, and has in recent years held a Chair in the School of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and a visiting fellowship at Cambridge University. He has published widely in philosophical and literary contexts; his recent books include Art and Ethical Criticism (Blackwell, 2008) and Describing Ourselves: Wittgenstein and Autobiographical Consciousness (2008). He is joint editor of the journal Philosophy and Literature.

Walter Jost is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Rhetorical Thought in John Henry Newman (1989) and Rhetorical Investigations (2004), and has edited or co-edited six previous books, including (with Wendy Olmsted) A Companion to Rhetoric and Rhetorical Criticism (Blackwell, 2004).

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  • Focuses on the main themes and topics in the philosophy of literature
  • Composed of all newly commissioned essays written by leading scholars in the field and provides lucid and engaging coverage of the key figures, terms, topics and problems in philosophy of literature
  • Provides the ideal basis for course use, representing an unparalleled work of reference for students and specialists alike
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"Recommended. Library collections supporting upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers." (Choice, 1 March 2011)

"It can be firmly recommended for the library of any university or college that has courses in either literature or philosophy". (Reference Reviews, 1 December 2010)

"In its richness, variety, learning, and consistent balance, this volume, which assembles some of the great names in the field, along with brilliant younger critics like Joshua Landy and Rupert Read, will serve as a cornerstone for anyone interested in the inextricability of philosophy and literature. Indeed, the various branches of philosophy, especially ethics and epistemology, emerge as indispensable for an understanding of major literary texts from Shakespeare to Stevens."
Marjorie Perloff, author of Wittgenstein's Ladder

"In the 1980s, English-speaking philosophers began taking a renewed systematic interest in literature, not so much to determine what sort of thing literature might be as to understand philosophy itself in relation to such things as narrative, tragedy, and literary language. This comprehensive volume brings together lively discussion and debate on the most important work that has been done in this area. A true and faithful companion indeed."
Gerald Bruns, Notre Dame University

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