Forms of Knowledge: A two-day conference on Literature and Philosophy

Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued that “Philosophy is not the reflection of a pre-existing truth, but, like art, the act of bringing truth into being”. Although often divided along institutional disciplinary lines, literature and philosophy have long shared an interest in questions of truth and knowledge raised by such statements. How do intellectual, phenomenological, theological, and affective forms of knowledge figure in literary and philosophical texts? How can works of literature perform and/or clarify philosophical concerns, especially questions of epistemology? How can philosophical texts and methodologies illuminate and/or reframe works of literature? How are forms of knowledge racialized, gendered, queered, or otherwise embodied and encoded?

Hosted by the University of Edinburgh’s research group Overlap, in partnership with the French Institute, the Department of English Literature, and the Department of European Languages and Cultures, this interdisciplinary conference invites delegates to explore questions such as these, bringing together viewpoints from the intersecting fields of philosophy and literature to interrogate various forms of knowledge creation.

Dates of conference : November 7-8, 2017
Deadline for submissions : September 8, 2017
Name of organization: University of Edinburgh (precise location to be announced)
Contact email:

Possible lines of inquiry include (but are not restricted to):

•how the work of certain philosophers have assumed “literary” forms in order to express philosophical ideas.

•how literature represents the relation of affect to ethics and politics, as discussed, for example, by Martha Nussbaum.

•how epistemologies are theorized within feminist, queer, and/or postcolonial paradigms, as, for example, in the work of Sarah Ahmed.

•Stanley Cavell’s work on literature and cinema, and his role in bridging the divide between analytic and continental philosophy.

•writers of philosophical fiction, drama, or poetry, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Iris Murdoch, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

•environmental philosophy, for example how Western culture’s human/nature dualism is figured in literature.

•proposals for other papers dealing with the relation of philosophy or literature to aesthetics, affect, beauty, drama, epistemology, ethics, existentialism, feminism, fiction, gender, history of knowledge, memory, ontology, performativity, phenomenology, poetry, postcolonialism, power, politics, religion, rhetoric, semiotics, sexuality, trauma, and truth will be welcomed.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words for a 15-20 minute paper, plus a 100-word biography should be submitted to by Friday 8 September 2017.

Further details can be found on the Overlap website