Comparative Literature | Rhetoric of Philosophy
C647 | 1248 | Kenshur

1:00-2:15	MW	BH 235
Meets with ENG L680

The course will provide a high-level introduction to an
interdisciplinary approach that breaks down traditional generic and
disciplinary distinctions between literary writing and philosophical
writing. Whether a given text has traditionally been considered a work
of literature or a philosophical discourse, we will see that it
contains a cunning interplay of rhetorical and logical strategies that
function to enact or embody arguments, to smooth out weaknesses, to
reconcile competing personal commitments, or to refute or co-opt
opposing arguments or ideological positions.
The course will touch on some long-debated issues regarding the
relationship between literature and knowledge, as well as some
contemporary issues regarding the cultural dynamics of texts. Our
readings, however, will center on the historical works that have been
invoked or interpreted by theoristsóworks such as Plato's Phaedrus and
Hobbes's Leviathanórather than on contemporary theoretical writings
themselves. Moreover, our approach will be informed by the theoretical
possibility and historical probability that texts are not merely
reflections of an overarching culture, but that they engageó in
diverse and unpredictable waysó in ideological contestation.
A tentative list of the authors to be studied includes Plato,
Montaigne, Descartes, Hobbes, Dryden, Bayle, Voltaire, Johnson, Hume,
Diderot, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky.