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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: The Literary Absolute (ENLI11037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaEnglish Literature Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course aims to extend students' knowledge of the growth of the idea of the literary aesthetic and its relations to philosophy, and in particular to questions of truth and value. After an introduction to eighteenth and nineteenth-century constructions of mimesis, imagination and the aesthetic as "literary absolute," the course turns to the implications of the epistemic and moral disengagement of the aesthetic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The course then charts how through developing interest in notions of the unconscious, experience, expression, the sublime and power, the aesthetic is drawn into an attack upon the notion of truth. Finally, two weeks will be spent considering the location of the literary aesthetic within the context of a culture which has largely collapsed the meaning/truth distinction traditionally nurtured by philosophy, and which is disposed to view the aesthetic as a type of ideology rather than a value. Correspondingly, in the light of the review of the aesthetic's relation (both synchronic and diachronic) to truth, the central theoretical question will concern the possibility of the recovery of a sphere of autonomous literary value.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  15
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
This aims to extend students' knowledge of the growth of the idea of the literary aesthetic and its relations to philosophy, and in particular to questions of truth and value.
Assessment Information
One coursework essay 4,000 words.
Special Arrangements
PG Version
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Week 1: The Literary Absolute
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, ¿Preface: The Literary Absolute,¿ The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism, trans. Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester (SUNY Press, 1988), pp. 1¿17; Friedrich Schlegel, extracts (handout)

Week 2: Representation
Plato; Aristotle, Poetics; Samuel Johnson, from Preface to Shakespeare

Week 3: Imagination and the Aesthetic
Immanuel Kant; Friedrich von Schiller; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Percy Bysshe Shelley

Week 4: Aestheticism
Walter Pater; Oscar Wilde, ¿The Decay of Lying¿ (handout); Leo Tolstoy, ¿What is Art?¿ (handout)

Week 5: The Unconscious
Sigmund Freud; Jacques Lacan

Week 6: Experience and Expression
Martin Heidegger; Benedetto Croce, from Aesthetic (handout)

Week 7: Realism and Formalism
Georg Lukacs, ¿Realism in the Balance¿ (handout); Theodor Adorno, ¿Reconciliation Under Duress¿ (handout)

Week 8: The Sublime
Longinus; Edmund Burke; Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement (handout); Jean-François Lyotard (handout)

Week 9: Power
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (handout); Harold Bloom; Michel Foucault, from ¿Truth and Power¿

Week 10: Dialectic and Metaphor
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; Jacques Derrida
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Core text:
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, gen. ed. Vincent B. Leitch (Norton, 2001).

Secondary Reading:

Gary Banham, Kant and the Ends of Aesthetics (St Martin's P, 1999)
Andrew Bowie, Aesthetics and Subjectivity: from Kant to Nietzsche (Manchester, 1990)
Malcolm Bowie, Lacan (1991)
David Carroll, Paraesthetics, Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida (1987)
David Cooper, A Companion to Aesthetics (1992)
Arthur Danto, The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art (1988)
Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990)
Victor Erlich, Russian Formalism, History-Doctrine, rev. ed. (1964)
E.H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion (1960)
Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art, 2nd. ed. (1988)
E.D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (1967)
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, The Literary Absolute, 1978, trans. Philip Barnard and Cheryl Lester (1988)
Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen, Truth, Fiction, and Literature (1994)
Kendall Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe (1990)
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Tim Milnes
Tel: (0131 6)50 3615
Course secretaryMs Nicole Luu
Tel: (0131 6)50 4465
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