University of Warwick, 27-29/3/2014
This conference aims to explore a series of theoretical themes that are relevant both for the philosophy of art and for literary criticism and theory. The aim is to bridge the gap between “philosophical” and “literary” approaches to the theory of literary interpretation, and to prompt participants coming from different backgrounds (Continental, Analytical…) to engage with one another.
We aim to bring together a number of scholars from both philosophy and literary studies to discuss a series of shared issues, primarily of a theoretical nature. The hope is to bring about a heightened appreciation of the variety of approaches that are possible in each case.
Confirmed speakers include Prof. Sergia Adamo (Trieste), Prof. Catherine Belsey (Swansea), Prof. Gregory Currie (Nottingham), Prof. Peter Lamarque (York), Prof. Stein Haugom Olsen (Østfold).
500-word abstracts for 20-minute presentations should be sent to the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ac.uk by 30/11/2013.
We welcome contributions on the following themes: (1) Essence; (2) Fiction; (3) Value. We would particularly appreciate an engagement both with philosophical and literary-critical literature, but this is not a requirement. We welcome case studies and historical analyses, as long as there is an explicit theoretical dimension to the discussion. Possible themes may include but are not limited to:
The definition of “literature”: problems, implications, consequences
The “object” of criticism: text, context, author
The philosophical implications of editorial practices
Trans-historical definition of literary terms: advantages and drawbacks
Changes/shifts in the way a single term has been used and different terms being used to indicate the same thing
The concept of “essence” in specific literary works
Historical vagaries of specific concepts
Literary characters vs human beings
The “constructedness” of fiction: consequences for literary interpretation
Literature as history, history as literature
Theoretical dimensions of the idea of “representation”
Symbolism, metaphor, narrative levels: consequences for philosophical speculation
Authors vs narrators vs characters
The concepts of “meaning” and “truth”in literary works
Relationship between explicit content and critical elaboration
Hermeneutics of suspicion / symptomatic reading vs. taking the works on its own terms
New applications of speech act theory
The distinction between “literature” and “fiction”
The cognitive value of literature: “strictly untrue” vs “metaphorically true”
The ethical value of literature: catharsis, imaginative expansion, ideological indoctrination
Emotional compliance vs detached analysis
Intrinsic vs instrumental value
“Platonism” vs “Aristotelianism” today
The “literariness” of literature: a cultural phenomenon like any other?
Advantages and drawbacks of bringing other disciplines to bear on literary phenomena
Reading literature “as something else”
Literary studies and philosophy of literature: present and future
The conference is organised by Prof. Thomas Docherty (English Department, Warwick), Philip Gaydon (Philosophy Department, Warwick), Prof. Eileen John (Philosophy Department, Warwick) and Andrea Selleri (English Department, Warwick), and it is funded by the British Society of Aesthetics, the Humanities Research Centre and the Philosophy Department at Warwick. Further information can be found on the website: