Philosophy + Literature Research Workshop


Open book with glasses

Every novel says to the reader: ‘Things are not as simple as you think.’ That is the novel's eternal truth, but it grows steadily harder to hear amid the din of easy, quick answers.   — Milan Kundera




What is so fascinating about works like Plato's dialogues and Dostoevsky's novels? Can philosophy and literature, in such combinations, achieve more than the sum of the two parts? Can philosophical approaches account for the specific power of literary works, even those that are not overtly philosophical? And can literary devices contribute to philosophical goals—in a way, perhaps, that nothing else could?

Founded in 2004, the initiative in Philosophy and Literature brings together Stanford’s vibrant group of literary scholars and its renowned philosophy department to answer questions like these. The initiative currently comprises a set of undergraduate major tracks, a graduate student workshop, and faculty-led events. Recent interests of participating faculty include:

  • the nature and value of beauty

  • literature and cognitive science

  • literature and the limits of sense

  • irony and ironism

  • literature and self-fashioning

  • intention and interpretation

  • metaphor

  • mimesis and make-believe

  • non-semantic effects of literary texts

  • literature and moral improvement

  • styles and genres of philosophical writing

For more information, please contact Grant Dowling at gdowling [at] (gdowling[at]stanford[dot]edu).

Philosophy and Literature Website