PHIL/CMPL 482.001 – Philosophy and Literature

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Instructor: James Lesher. This course meets TR 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in CW 208.

Course Description: CMPL/PHIL 482 is a three-credit course with no pre-requisites. It meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15 in Caldwell room 0208. The instructor is Professor James Lesher (jlesher@email.unc.edu) and https://philosophy.unc.edu/people/james-lesher/. His office is in Caldwell 108A.

Course objectives: Our main aim will be to develop a detailed understanding of the philosophical aspects of a number of significant ancient and modern literary works. We will begin by exploring the philosophical aspects of the poetry of Homer and Hesiod and the criticisms of their teachings by Xenophanes and Heraclitus. We will then investigate the presence of philosophical ideas in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, the accuracy of the depiction of Socrates’ philosophical interests in Aristophanes’ Clouds and the mix of literary features and philosophical ideas in Plato’s Symposium. Our discussion of modern literature will focus on the philosophical aspects of Voltaire’s Candide, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, selected plays and short stories of Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus’ The Stranger.