Over 4000 free audio and video lectures, seminars and teaching resources from Oxford University.
Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

The Trouble with Literature - Clarendon Lectures 2017

A series of four lectures delivered by Prof. Victoria Kahn in October 2017, arguing that literature in the Reformation is one vehicle by which religious belief was itself transformed into a human artifact, whether we understand this as a poetic artifact or a mental fiction. This transformation in turn helped produce the eighteenth-century discipline of aesthetics, with its emphasis on our experience of non-cognitive pleasure in the work of art, and the modern formalist definition of literature, according to which - in the words of one critic- 'literature solves no problems and saves no souls.' This modern definition of literature, in short, has a history, this history is intertwined with the problem of belief, and by returning to the fraught years of the late sixteenth and seventeenth century in England, we can come to a new understanding of how the trouble with literature has shaped our discipline.

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Lecture 1: Literature and Literariness The first lecture contrasts modern and early modern understandings of literature and literariness. Victoria Kahn 24 Nov 2017
2 Lecture 2: Hobbes and Maker's Knowledge The second and third lecture focus on Thomas Hobbes and John Milton. Victoria Kahn 24 Nov 2017
3 Lecture 3: Milton and the Problem of Belief The second and third lecture focus on Thomas Hobbes and John Milton. Victoria Kahn 24 Nov 2017
4 Lecture 4: Literariness in Kant, Kierkegaard, and Coetzee The fourth lecture considers the work of Kant, Kierkegaard, and J.M. Coetzee. Victoria Khan 24 Nov 2017