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PHIL 347 Paper Prompts


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Unformatted text preview: SUGGESTED QUESTIONS: PHILOSOPHY OF LITERATURE II) III) IV) Part 1. What are Borges’ aims in “Pierre Menard”? In particular, does he intend to be giving a counterexample to textualism? Support your view with evidence from the tale. Part II. Do you regard this example as a good objection to textualism? Does one’s answer to this question bear on considerations about how we should engage with literary works? Explain? The governess in The Turn of the Screw is often regarded as an unreliable narrator, but, in what sense, is her narration unreliable? It can’t simply be because she fictionally asserts various things that we don’t believe, i.e., that she has seen the ghosts. Many authors (e.g., Hugo in Notre Dame de Paris) will fictionally assert things, e. g., about the condition of the poor in medieval Paris that we are not inclined to believe. It can’t be that the governess asserts things that are intended to deceive her audience. It is not clear that the governess does assert anything (even fictionally) with an intention to deceive. So how should the unreliability of the governess be explained? Cite some passages that, in your view, manifest her unreliability as a narrator, and explain how they manifest her unreliability. How, in the end, should the concept of an ‘unreliable narrator’ be explained? Is the audio-visual narration of The Innocents unreliable? If so, give some examples, and explain how the relevant instances of cinematic narration are unreliable? Does the film have an unreliable narrator? A number of theorists of literature, notably Stanley Fish, have held that something is a work of literature only relative to an ‘interpretative community” that accepts it as such. “Thus the act of recognizing literature is not constrained by something in the text, nor does it issue from an independent and arbitrary will; rather, it proceeds from a collective decision as to what will count as literature, a decision that will be in force only so long as a community of readers abide by it” [Is There a Text in the Class? The Authority of Interpretative Communities (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press 1980), p. 11]. The considerations about discourses that count, within an interpretative community, for or against their being works of literature, have justifying force only as long as and only because the community treats them as reason giving. What do you think of this approach? Does this theory have the consequence that our class (a special community of readers) can non-criticizably treat only a certain species of ungrammatical, degrading verbal pornography as works as literature? That no one else (belonging to another community) can legitimately criticize our standards of the literary. If so, is this position acceptable? If not, why not? ...
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