FULL-Course 117: Philosophy in Literature
Nietzsche Sartre Camus
Leader: John Murphy
Description: It is no great surprise to students of philosophy and literature that the two disciplines often complement one another. Philosophers like Plato, Nietzsche, and Sartre have regularly employed fiction to express their profoundest thoughts. Appropriately, we can therefore ask ourselves how the intellectual discipline of philosophy and the creative energy of fiction can serve each other well and rewardingly serve us as readers. Why this influence of philosophy in literature is important can best be seen as providing grounds for reflection and insight that go far beyond the mere act of reading fiction. Fine literature both entertains us and provokes us into deeper thought about our reading experience, which, in Socratic terms, possibly leads to a worthy examination of our personal lives. This course makes no pretense at being a rigorous study of philosophical thinkers or principles, but it will attempt to indicate how twentieth-century writers of fiction embody major currents of philosophical thought in their novels. Readings for the course will include the following short novels: Albert Camus, The Stranger; John Gardner, Grendel; Par Lagerkvist, The Sibyl; and Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and The Sea. Usually, these works can be read in the space of approximately two hours, but I would encourage class members to spend significant additional time in reflecting and wondering about the controversial, provocative implications of these readings. Our class meetings will be for 1 1/2 hours, with modest introductory remarks made by the instructor and followed by intense and enlightened discussion among class members. Above all else, we should appreciate and enjoy the search by serious writers for what is termed "the good life."
Biography: John Murphy is emeritus professor of English at Bucknell University and currently lives in Lewisburg, PA and Chamonix, France. He has also taught English literature in Michigan, Wisconsin, Italy, Zaire, England, and France.
Materials for Course: The works mentioned in the course description can be found easily online or ordered through most bookstores
Number of Participants: Minimum 5; Maximum 13
Location: RidgeCrest at RiverWoods - Creative Arts Room
Meeting Time: Wednesdays, February 27 through April 3, 1 - 2:30 p.m.