Spring 2012 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Bambach, Charles
Discipline and Number
PHIL 4380 Section 001
TR Time 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Course Title
Philosophy & Poetry

Description of Course:

Philosophy & Poetry in Dialogue:

In this undergraduate class we will attempt a conversation between two major figures in European philosophy & poetry—Friedrich Holderlin and Martin Heidegger. The starting point for our inquiry will be Plato's question about the conflict within the polis about the proper role of "representation" as a model of truth. How can poetry properly come to an engagement with "truth", esp. a truth that has been covered over and concealed by our very practices of engaging language? I choose these figures because it seems to me that the kind of writing/thinking that occurs here is decisive for a way of rethinking our very relation to language and understanding as a phenomenological process.

We will read each work closely, sometimes spending an entire seminar session on a single poem, reading line-by-line in a slow, hermeneutically focused way. Hoelderlin’s poems are difficult, resistant to easy analysis and requiring a rare concentration on detail, context, texture, resonance, and rhetorical frame. Part of my interest in our interpretations will be style, part translation--but the real focus here will be a philosophical reading of poetry that tries to grasp philosophy as a kind of poetic thinking. By reading each poetic text both through and against Heidegger’s philosophical writings, my hope is to spur a dialogue about language and hermeneutics in relation to the practice of philosophy itself.

Required Texts:

Friedrich Hoelderlin, Selected Poems and Fragments (Penguin)
Friedrich Hoelderlin, "In lovely blueness" (Handout)
Martin Heidegger, Elucidations of Hoelderlin's Poetry
Martin Heidegger, Hoelderlin's Hymn, "The Ister"
Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Students will be expected to write one five-page essay, one 8-10 page essay,and one in-class Protokoll.

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