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There are many types of literary theory, which take different approaches to texts. Even among those listed below, many scholars combine methods from more than one of these approaches for instance, the deconstructive approach of Paul de Man drew on a long tradition of close reading pioneered by the New Critics , and de Man was trained in the European hermeneutic tradition.

Broad schools of theory that have historically been important include historical and biographical criticism , New Criticism , formalism , Russian formalism , and structuralism , post-structuralism , Marxism , feminism and French feminism , post-colonialism , new historicism , deconstruction , reader-response criticism , and psychoanalytic criticism. The different interpretive and epistemological perspectives of different schools of theory often arise from, and so give support to, different moral and political commitments.

For instance, the work of the New Critics often contained an implicit moral dimension, and sometimes even a religious one: a New Critic might read a poem by T. Eliot or Gerard Manley Hopkins for its degree of honesty in expressing the torment and contradiction of a serious search for belief in the modern world.

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Meanwhile, a Marxist critic might find such judgments merely ideological rather than critical; the Marxist would say that the New Critical reading did not keep enough critical distance from the poem's religious stance to be able to understand it. Such a disagreement cannot be easily resolved, because it is inherent in the radically different terms and goals that is, the theories of the critics.

Their theories of reading derive from vastly different intellectual traditions: the New Critic bases his work on an East-Coast American scholarly and religious tradition, while the Marxist derives his thought from a body of critical social and economic thought, the post-structuralist's work emerges from twentieth-century Continental philosophy of language, and the Darwinian from the modern evolutionary synthesis. In the late s, the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye attempted to establish an approach for reconciling historical criticism and New Criticism while addressing concerns of early reader-response and numerous psychological and social approaches.

His approach, laid out in his Anatomy of Criticism , was explicitly structuralist, relying on the assumption of an intertextual "order of words" and universality of certain structural types. His approach held sway in English literature programs for several decades but lost favor during the ascendance of post-structuralism.

For some theories of literature especially certain kinds of formalism , the distinction between "literary" and other sorts of texts is of paramount importance. Other schools particularly post-structuralism in its various forms: new historicism, deconstruction, some strains of Marxism and feminism have sought to break down distinctions between the two and have applied the tools of textual interpretation to a wide range of "texts", including film, non-fiction, historical writing, and even cultural events. Mikhail Bakhtin argued that the "utter inadequacy" of literary theory is evident when it is forced to deal with the novel ; while other genres are fairly stabilized, the novel is still developing.

Another crucial distinction among the various theories of literary interpretation is intentionality, the amount of weight given to the author's own opinions about and intentions for a work. For most preth century approaches, the author's intentions are a guiding factor and an important determiner of the "correct" interpretation of texts. The New Criticism was the first school to disavow the role of the author in interpreting texts, preferring to focus on "the text itself" in a close reading.

In fact, as much contention as there is between formalism and later schools, they share the tenet that the author's interpretation of a work is no more inherently meaningful than any other. Reading Balzac Short Commentaries on Proust Words from Abroad Titles: Paraphrases on Lessing Toward a Portrait of Thomas Mann Bibliographical Musings On an Imaginary Feuilleton Commitment Helms Stefan George Benjamin the Letter Writer An Open Letter to Rolf Hochhuth Is Art Lighthearted?

Topics will include: the role of mind in the constitution of experience; the nature of space and time; the relation between self-knowledge and knowledge of objects; how causal claims can be justified by experience; whether free will is possible; the relation between appearance and reality; the possibility of metaphysics. This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam. A two-quarter Autumn, Winter workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. We will explore both the overall strategy of the book and the contemporary debate about how to read its mysterious, seemingly self-undermining conclusion, and the details of his views e.

It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance.

The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a page seminar paper at the end of the year. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c. It is often said in contemporary literature that the difference between different types of democracies, like democratic Republic and Constitutional Monarchy, is a superficial one compared to the true relevant divide of modernity between democratic societies and non-democratic societies.

The problem with such a divide is that it entails the reduction of Modern Constitutional Monarchies to decorative regimes - in other words to a variety of Republic. That period deals with the difficult intellectual challenge for French thinkers to overcome Absolutism in favor of Democracy without rejecting Monarchy as such.

The important thinkers of that period we are going to read are J. We will examine the question of what it means to read religious texts and practices from a philosophical point of view. Enrollment requires the consent of the instructor and the course is only open to advanced graduate students who are writing a thesis or preparing comprehensive exams. For more information contact the instructor. I mean Aristotle. This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of Approval of dissertation committee is required.

Perhaps it is better to give than to receive, but exactly how much giving ought one to engage in and to whom or what? Recent ethical and philosophical developments such as the effective altruism movement suggest that relatively affluent individuals are ethically bound to donate a very large percentage of their wealth to worthy causes—for example, saving as many lives as they possibly can, wherever in the world those lives may be. And charitable giving or philanthropy is not only a matter of individual giving, but also of giving by foundations, corporations, non-profits, non-governmental and various governmental agencies, and other organizational entities that play a very significant role in the modern world.


How, for example, does an institution like the University of Chicago engage in and justify its philanthropic activities? Can one generalize about the various rationales for philanthropy, whether individual or institutional? Why do individuals or organizations engage in philanthropy, and do they do so well or badly, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no coherent reasons? This course will afford a broad, critical philosophical and historical overview of philanthropy, examining its various contexts and justifications, and contrasting charitable giving with other ethical demands, particularly the demands of justice.

How do charity and justice relate to each other? Would charity even be needed in a fully just world?

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And does philanthropy in its current forms aid or hinder the pursuit of social justice, in both local and global contexts? The course will be developed in active conversation with the work of the UChicago Civic Knowledge Project and Office of Civic Engagement, and students will be presented with some practical opportunities to engage reflectively in deciding whether, why and how to donate a certain limited amount of course provided funding. This course will be devoted Jean-Paul Sartre as a philosopher, as a writer, as a literary essayist and as an existential psychoanalysis.

Another aspect of our exploration will be to make sense of Sartre's practice of the literary essay about other writers through the form of the portrait. We will see in which way each of them embodies essential features of the human condition described by existentialist philosophy, especially Baudelaire, Genet and Flaubert.

Theories of justice in the workplace including the right to strike, the right to form a union, the right to leisure, workplace democracy, etc. In this class we shall attempt to get to grips with various philosophical accounts of evil. This will partly involve getting in view how different ethical orientations—both contemporary and historical—entail different kinds of perspectives on what evil is. At the heart of the course will be an attempt to get to grips with two central tendencies in our thinking about evil: First, the idea of evil as somehow a positive force, something with its own distinctive character, and on the other hand, the idea of evil as a mere privation.

In this course we address one of the central and most fascinating philosophical questions about linguistic meaning: what is the relationship between meaning and reference? We will study a range of classical and contemporary theories about the semantics of referring expressions such as proper names, definite descriptions, and indexicals. Throughout, we will try to reach of a better understanding of how questions about meaning and reference connect with a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the connection between propositional attitudes and the explanation of action, the role of the principle of compositionality in formal semantics, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the nature of fictional and non-existent objects, and the interaction between semantics and pragmatics.

Elementary Logic recommended, but not required. Most of us seek to be reasonably good people leading what we take to be successful and satisfying lives. There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that most of us fail to live up to our own standards. Worse, we often fail to mark our own failures in ways that could help us improve ourselves. The context in which we try to live good lives is shaped by the vicissitudes of the global economy. The global economy is obviously of interest to those of us studying economics or planning on careers in business.

Aspiring entrepreneurs or corporate leaders have clear stakes in understanding practical wisdom in the economic sphere. But anyone who relies upon her pay - or someone else's - to cover her living expenses has some interest in economic life. In this course, we will bring work in neo-Aristotelian ethics and neo-classical economics into conversation with empirical work from behavioral economics and behavioral ethics, to read, write, talk, and think about cultivating wisdom in our economic dealings.

While our focus will be on business, the kinds of problems we will consider, and the ways of addressing these, occur in ordinary life more generally - at home, in academic settings, and in our efforts to participate in the daily production and reproduction of sound modes of social interaction.


A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Roughly, legal positivists affirm, and natural lawyers deny, that what it is to be a law is independent of what it is to be a morally good law. In this course, we will survey the leading arguments in analytic jurisprudence on both sides of this debate.

Hart, and Joseph Raz, among others. The goals of the course are 1 to provide a framework in which to contextualize law school coursework, for students who go on to pursue a JD; and 2 to provide a foundation for specialized research in the philosophy of law, for students who go on to pursue a PhD. Topic: Pessimism and Compassion: Schopenhauer on Value. This lecture-discussion course will focus on the nature of historical explanation and the role of narrative in providing an understanding of historical events. This course is an introduction to the philosophy of aesthetics, with a focus on art and art objects.

With respect to art, our questions will include: What is art? What is the point of making art? What is it to appreciate art? What is the metaphysical character of art objects symphonies, paintings, novels, etc. What is the ethical status of art? With respect to aesthetics more generally, our questions will include: is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What is it for something to be in the eye of the beholder? Does beauty track or even constitute scientific truth?

If so: why? If not, why have so many mathematicians, physicists, and biologists been preoccupied with the beauty of their theories? Decisions about medical treatment, medical research, and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by a philosopher, two physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, kidney markets, abortion, and research ethics.

Third or fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major. In this course, we will examine the various ways in which the concepts and techniques of modern mathematical logic can be utilized to investigate the structure of knowledge. Some philosophers have argued that these results have profound epistemological implications, for instance, that they can be used to ground skeptical claims to the effect that there must be truths that logic and mathematics are powerless to prove.

One of the aims of this course is to assess the legitimacy of these epistemological claims. In addition, we will explore the extent to which the central results of mathematical logic can be extended so as to apply to systems of inductive logic, and examine what forms of inductive skepticism may emerge as a result. We will, for example, discuss the epistemological implications of Putnam's diagonalization argument, which shows that, for any Bayesian theory of confirmation based on a definable prior, there must exist hypotheses which, if true, can never be confirmed.

Traditionally, epistemologists have concerned themselves with the individual: What should I believe? What am I in a position to know? How should my beliefs guide my decision-making? But we can also ask each of these questions about groups. What should we -- the jury, the committee, the scientific community--believe?

What can we know? How should our beliefs guide our decision-making? When should I defer to majority opinion?

Dr. Sam McAuliffe | Goldsmiths, University of London

Are there distinctively epistemic forms of oppression and injustice? If so, what are they like and how might we try to combat them? This class is a broad introduction to social epistemology. This course provides a first introduction to mathematical logic. In this course we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both propositional and first-order predicate logic.

A close reading of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Topics include: meaning, explanation, understanding, inference, sensation, imagination, intentionality, and the nature of philosophy. Supplementary readings will be drawn from other later writings. This seminar will focus on three authors——Charlotte Delbo, Primo Levi, and Zalman Gradowski——each of whom wrote a literary masterpiece about their experiences in Auschwitz.

All of their works also raise profound philosophical questions. Delbo, a member of the French Resistance, was deported to Auschwitz and wrote a truly remarkable trilogy, Auschwitz and After, that makes use of a variety of literary genres. Gradowski, the least well known of these authors, was assigned to the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz. Before being murdered, he wrote two extraordinary manuscripts and buried them under the ashes of Birkenau, where they were discovered after the war.

Delbo and Levi both exist in English translation. However, there is not yet a complete translation of Gradowski into English. His manuscripts were written in Yiddish. We will read the superb French translation of his manuscripts, which is accompanied by an important critical apparatus. Reading knowledge of French is therefore a prerequisite for this course. A central concern of this seminar will be the relation between literary expression and philosophical insight. We will also take up the question of how the Shoah can be represented and what philosophy can say about it.

Finally, we will consider writing as a form of ethical and political resistance. We will read these works from several perspectives——philosophical and theological, literary, and historical. All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to jbarbaro uchicago.

Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course. Political philosophy is always of its time, yet many political philosophies have tried to be deeply critical of their times. The seminar will investigate different ways to justify such criticism. Open to students who have been admitted to the Paris Humanities Program. This course will be taught at the Paris Humanities Program.

An exploration of some of the central questions in metaethics, moral theory, and applied ethics. These questions include the following: are there objective moral truths, as there are as it seems objective scientific truths? If so, how can we come to know these truths?

Should we make the world as good as we can, or are there moral constraints on what we can do that are not a function of the consequences of our actions? Is the best life a maximally moral life? What distribution of goods in a society satisfies the demands of justice? Can beliefs and desires be immoral, or only actions? What is courage? Among the questions with which we will be concerned are the following: What constitutes a legal harm in such a context? What sort of redress or compensation may one justifiably seek for such suffering?

Who has a right to decide such questions? What justifies the use of sanction or force — and when is it justified — in the enforcement of such legal decisions? The first half of this course will present a selective historical genealogy of our contemporary understanding of how to go about answering such questions.

About Adorno and Literature

The second half of the course will be on contemporary theories of private law. Most of the first half of the course will be devoted to a careful examination of how, building on Aristotle's distinction, Kant arrives at a systematic theory of the scope and nature of private law. We will focus, in particular, on his derivation of what he takes to be the three fundamental forms of private law — property, contract, and agency — as well as on his account of their place within an overall theory of the nature of right.