Kristin Boyce on Analytic Philosophy of Literature at the New School Feb 27

Kristin Boyce on Analytic Philosophy of Literature at the New School Feb 27

Professor Kristin Boyce (Mississippi State University) will present her paper, “A Philosophical History of Analytic Philosophy of Literature“; graduate student Elliot Trapp (NSSR) will respond.

February 27th Friday 4:30-6:30, 80 Fifth Ave. Room 529, The New School


The history of analytic philosophy of literature could be written as a narrative of the efforts to formulate and solve a series of interrelated paradoxes. This kind of approach will strike many as uncontroversially part and parcel of an analytic philosophy of literature. I argue, though, that this is neither the only nor the best form that a distinctively “analytic” philosophy of literature can take. Instead of writing a survey of paradoxes formulated and solutions attempted, I shift to what I call “the paradox of philosophy and literature.” On one hand literature (along with the arts more generally) has consistently been of marginal importance as an object of philosophical reflection. On the other, or so I will argue, it has been of special methodological importance for analytic philosophy from the beginning.

The marginalization of aesthetics within analytic philosophy is no secret. By contrast, the  methodological centrality of the literary arts for analytic philosophy has not until recently been recognized at all. From its inception, the analytic tradition has worked hard to disentangle itself from other humanistic enterprises, especially art and religion, and to secure its proximity to modern science. Recent work in the history of early analytic philosophy by Cora Diamond and others, though, has made it possible to see how deeply tied the “analytic” ways of doing philosophy that emerged were not just to developments in the sciences, but to those in the literary arts and criticism as well. I argue that this work has important implications for aesthetics generally, and for philosophy of literature in particular, that have not yet been recognized or explored. A philosophical self-understanding, which more adequately reflects the proximity of the work of philosophy to the work of literature, should make possible new and by some measures better ways of reflecting philosophically on art.

*For a copy of the paper, please email