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Advanced Philosophy: Philosophy And Literature In Recent French Theory

This course explores the intricate relationship between philosophy and literature through the works of Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. Each of these thinkers demonstrates how philosophical arguments can inspire literary writing and how literary analysis can lead to profound philosophical insights.



With Barthes and Foucault, we will examine the concepts of authorship and the notion of the author's 'death.' Blanchot will guide us in exploring the idea of a 'space of literature,' while Derrida will challenge us to consider the nature of the literary act. Deleuze will present literature as a machine that generates specific affects.



We will read short stories by Brecht, Beckett, Proust, Melville, Kafka, and Sacher-Masoch, alongside significant works from our five main philosophers: Deleuze's Proust and Signs and Coldness and Cruelty, Barthes' S/Z and The Death of the Author, Blanchot's The Space of Literature and The Book to Come, Derrida's Writing and Difference and Of Grammatology, and Foucault's The Order of Things and What Is an Author?.



Through these readings, the course aims to illuminate the processes by which literature becomes a dynamic force in the creation of philosophical ideas, and how philosophy, in turn, embarks on a literary journey to create a ?logical? novel.





  • Who is it for?

    This course is at Upper Intermediate level and so would not be suitable for people who are new to studying philosophy. It would be an ideal continuation course for students who have previously studied on our Intermediate level courses and who now want a course that will look at the work of a particular philosopher or theme in some depth. It may also be suitable for people who have had some previous grounding in 20th Century French Philosophy, and who now want to study in more depth.
    Although you should have some previous experience of studying philosophy it is not expected that you need to have familiarity with these authors, as this is what the course will aim to provide.

  • What does it cover?

    This course ventures into the unique interplay between literature and philosophy through the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, examining how literary works ignite philosophical exploration, and vice versa. Central to our journey will be the writings of these philosophers, examined in conjunction with the literary works that inspired and were reimagined by them, revealing their capacity to be more than just powerful narratives.

    Deleuze, Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, and Foucault offer new ways of thinking about time, politics, identity, agency, language, and the unconscious, highlighting how any philosophical venture can be consistently enriched and challenged by 'noises' from outside the discipline-be it music, films, novels, or paintings. They posit that literature has the capacity to generate a 'positive disturbance' within philosophy, prompting it to reassess and rejuvenate itself by extracting new concepts and ideas directly from the literary domain.

    In this course, we will explore their philosophical discourses alongside the works of Brecht, Beckett, Proust, Melville, Kafka, and Sacher-Masoch. This juxtaposition aims to demonstrate how literature confronts and enriches philosophical thought in unexpected ways, and how a literary text can hold profound philosophical significance.

    By engaging with the texts and literary references of Deleuze, Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, and Foucault, participants will:

    - Gain insight into the unique methods by which these philosophers integrate literature into a philosophical framework.
    - Explore the reciprocal influence of literature and philosophy in shaping concepts and creating new modes of thought.
    - Apply concepts from these philosophers to contemporary discussions in cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and critical theory.

  • What will it be like?

    The course will be taught in a seminar style, and there will be an opportunity for students to give a presentation on an aspect of the week's content before each session, discuss and debate. Short excerpts will be provided to read during class and at home, which will cover important concept and arguments.

  • What else do I need to buy or do?

    Students will be expected to engage with readings at home each week. Texts will be supplied by the tutor, and there will be no expectation to purchase them.

  • What could it lead to?

    Other Upper Intermediate or Advanced level Philosophy courses at the Mary Ward Centre or other similar establishments. These can include an emphasis on Art, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Language and Difference.

Available Courses

Advanced Philosophy: Philosophy And Literature In Recent French Theory

This course explores the intricate relationship between philosophy and literature through the works of Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. Each of these thinkers demonstrates how philosophical arguments can inspire literary writing and how literary analysis can lead to profound philosophical insights.



With Barthes and Foucault, we will examine the concepts of authorship and the notion of the author's 'death.' Blanchot will guide us in exploring the idea of a 'space of literature,' while Derrida will challenge us to consider the nature of the literary act. Deleuze will present literature as a machine that generates specific affects.



We will read short stories by Brecht, Beckett, Proust, Melville, Kafka, and Sacher-Masoch, alongside significant works from our five main philosophers: Deleuze's Proust and Signs and Coldness and Cruelty, Barthes' S/Z and The Death of the Author, Blanchot's The Space of Literature and The Book to Come, Derrida's Writing and Difference and Of Grammatology, and Foucault's The Order of Things and What Is an Author?.



Through these readings, the course aims to illuminate the processes by which literature becomes a dynamic force in the creation of philosophical ideas, and how philosophy, in turn, embarks on a literary journey to create a ?logical? novel.





26 September 2024 – 12 December 2024
Thursday, 18:00 to 20:00
Course Code:427CS
£193 / £68
12 Meetings
1 Rushworth St
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Need more information?

For more information contact the Curriculum Administration Team at admin@marywardcentre.ac.uk

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