Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cfp: "Philosophy in Literature," University of Vaasa, Finland, May 27-28, 2010.

Plato, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche are classical examples of the philosophers who discuss philosophical ideas with literary style. Writers of world literature such as Dostoyevsky, Hesse, and Beauvoir, for their part, are known as novelists whose books discuss philosophical questions or are otherwise considered to be philosophical or profound. These and many other examples from different countries and continents show that literature can enrich and stimulate the discussion on philosophical themes. Again, philosophical concepts and thematizations may offer tools for literary research of literature. The goal of this conference is to bring together philosophers and scholars of the study of literature to discuss the aptness of literature in the discussion of philosophical questions and the suitability of philosophical concepts and theories in literary research. The papers to be proposed can be case studies in which examples of literature are discussed. The papers can also be theoretical studies that aim to contribute to the theory of the study of literature or philosophy.

Some suggested questions and subtopics are the following:
  • Examples of the philosophical themes or questions discussed in world literature by different authors from different periods
  • Examples of the approaches to philosophical themes or questions in literature
  • Which philosophical themes, fields (e.g., metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics) or questions are or have been especially apt to be discussed in the forum of world literature? Why?
  • Which philosophical themes or questions are difficult to be discussed by means of fiction? Why?
  • Which literary genres or types of novels are especially suitable to be forums of philosophical discussion?
  • In what ways does philosophical imagination differ from fiction? In what sense is imagination similar in philosophy and in fiction?
  • What special tools are available in literature to deal with philosophical questions - tools that are lacking from standard academic philosophical prose?
  • In what ways can philosophical tools (concepts, views, theories) be used for the analysis of literature of different countries and cultures? In what ways should philosophical tools not be used in literary research?
  • What philosophically interesting differences and similarities can be found in the literature of different cultures and continents? Are the differences related to philosophical themes and questions, or rather to approaches or the ways of discussing?
  • What gender differences are there in male and female novelists' approaches to philosophical questions? How do philosophically oriented novelists discuss gender?
  • How have feminist philosophers treated issues relating to gender, sexuality and embodiment in literary works? What kinds of philosophical concepts or theoretical approaches can be productive from the feminist perspective when studying the above mentioned questions in literature?
Conference Directors: Chandana Chakrabarti, Davis and Elkins College, and Tomi Lethonen, University of Vassa, Finland

Please send 150 words abstract by email to Panos Eliopoulos by February 15, 2010.

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