Philosophy Courses for English and Literature Students


The Philosophy Department actively supports interdisciplinary studies in philosophy and literature. Although all philosophy courses offer opportunities for students in the literary arts, the following courses are most strongly recommended:

  • PHIL 105 Ethics
  • PHIL 109 Existentialism
  • PHIL 207 18th-Century Philosophy
  • PHIL 208 19th-Century Philosophy: From Kant to Nietzsche
  • PHIL 306 Philosophy of Language

These courses contain formal units of interdisciplinary instruction known as “Bridge Readings.” Bridge readings allow students to explore connections between the subject matter of a philosophy course and literary texts. Bridge-reading students are invited to write a final research essay that explores such interdisciplinary connections. Bridge Reading courses are often supported by faculty in other departments, who provide tutorial assistance. Students intending to pursue graduate studies in literary studies are strongly encouraged to complete a minor in philosophy, which should be designed in close consultation with the department to enhance the student’s orientation to literary studies. There are various ways of relating philosophy and literature supported by the department:

  • The study of theoretical approaches to reading literature, called “Critical Theory,” which derive from philosophical theories.
  • The study of an historical period as producing both literary artworks and philosophical theories addressing common social and political issues.
  • The study of the historical development of narrative and the novel called “Narratology” or “Theory of the Novel” in connection with philosophical questions about the temporal and historical dimensions of human existence.
  • The study of literary genres in connection with psychological studies in cognitive, narrative, and developmental psychology.
  • The study of language use in drama and literature in connection with the philosophical analysis of how language works.