Literature Art And Culture – The Philosophical Thread
The course will explore the literature, art, and material culture of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Europe, with reference to five key literary texts: Plato's Dialogues; Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy; Montaigne's Essays; Charles Dickens's Hard Times; and Jean-Paul Sartre's Roads to Freedom. It will focus on the influence that each of these texts had on those that followed; and on the complex and changing inter-relationships between literature, the visual and performing arts, and material culture in European culture and society.
Who is this course for
No prior knowledge is necessary, but a good understanding of English is essential.
We will be discussing the following books, which you may wish to buy and read in your own time:
C. Emlyn-Jones (ed) & Plato, Early Socratic Dialogues, Penguin Classics.
V. Watts (trans) & Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, Penguin Classics.
M.A. Screech (trans) & M. de Montaigne, The Complete Essays, Penguin Classics;
C. Dickens, Hard Times, Penguin Classics.
D. Caute & J-P. Sartre, The Age of Reason, Penguin Modern Classics.
What does this course cover
We will begin by looking at the concept of 'philosophical' literature in global perspective; and at key issues of literary influence, and inter-relationships between different forms of cultural and creative expression. We will then examine each of the key texts on its own terms; in the context of the times and places in which they were produced; and in terms of their broader influence in the definition and transformation of regional and national cultures. We will explore the invention, endurance, appropriation, and modification of tradition in response to changing social, political, and religious ideas; and the way in which such traditions continue to develop and influence the Modern World.
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
' Explain the concept of 'philosophical' literature, with reference to key texts in the Ancient, Medieval, and Modern traditions of the Old World.
' Compare and contrast a range of literary forms (including dialogues, essays, and novels) through which philosophical ideas can be considered and debated.
' Identify a range of influences of one text on another; and of specific literary works on other forms of cultural expression (painting, sculpture, material culture, music, drama).
' Contribute to a discussion on the philosophical and theological ideas that underpin key literary works.
' Define key ideas in philosophy, literary criticism and art history.
' Use the knowledge gained on the course to identify aspects of philosophical thought that continue to influence the cultural life of the our own times.
What will it be like
The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.
Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint; readings from the key texts and related works; and group discussion of issues arising from those texts. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.
What else do you need to buy or do
The course will be run on Zoom, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:
You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.
You can participate in class sessions through the use of a computer, laptop, tablet or other similar internet enabled device. Please note that if you only have access to a smartphone, you will be able to attend the class sessions and participate in them but you will find it more difficult to benefit from the full range of materials and activities involved in the course if this is your only means of connection.
Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session and that as far as possible that you can keep this space quite and clear of interruption so that you can concentrate on what is happening in the class.
By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may occasionally be recorded by the tutor for internal education and training purposes but any such recordings will not be made available to anyone outside of the Mary Ward Centre organisation without us asking you again for further permission to do so.
You are advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.
What this course could lead to
You might consider enrolling on other history/history of art/literature/philosophy courses run by the Centre.
I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.MWC student
This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria
Got a Question about this Course?
Contact The Departmental Administrator.
Why choose Mary Ward?
Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course
Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’