1st Edition

Thinking with Words A Literary Groundwork

By Brett Bourbon, Miguel Tamen Copyright 2024
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    Thinking with Words: A Literary Groundwork provides a unique foundational introduction to the depths and glories of literature and its study. It is a book about why literature matters, and why it always will. Readers will explore the roots of literature and art in the interplay between life and language, actions and events, and culture and texts. This is not a book about theories, but a book about our complex engagement with language and literature, from which theories, interpretations, and insight arise. As a ground work, confusions are dissolved, and analytical tools for thinking are developed and honed. Readers will discover that their ways of talking about literature can powerfully contribute to their ways of talking about life.  The book re-situates literary studies within fundamental arguments about language, knowledge, and ethics.

    Thinking with Words is essential reading for anyone interested in not just literature but in art, culture, and language.  

    0. Introduction




    1. Use and Mention

    2. Words and Sentences

    3. Meaning and Meaningfulness

    4. Propaganda and Ambiguity




    5. Mimesis and Catharsis

    6. Character and Character

    7. Fictions and Stop Signs

    8. Poems and Particularity




    9.   Familiar and Unfamiliar

    10. Attitudes and Words

    11. Paraphrase and Example

    12. Persons and Life




    13. Poems and Eyes

    14. Making and Finding

    15. Actions and Art

    16. Closeness and Distance




    17. Actions and Events

    18. Context and Text

    19. Us and Them

    20. Thinking with Words


    Brett Bourbon is Professor of English Literature at the University of Dallas. He is also a Visiting Professor in The Program of Literary Theory, University of Lisbon. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and was a professor at Stanford. He was awarded a Mellon post-doctoral fellowship and a Fulbright Award. He has published many essays and three books, including Finding a Replacement for the Soul: meaning and mind in literature and philosophy (Harvard UP, 2004), Everyday Poetics:  Ethics, Love, and Logic (Bloomsbury Press, 2022), and Jane Austen And the Ethics of Life (Routledge Press, 2022). 

    Miguel Tamen is Professor of Literary Theory at the University of Lisbon. Between 2000-2014 he also held a regular visiting appointment at the University of Chicago. He was a fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, and at the National Humanities Center. He is the author of Friends of Interpretable Objects (2001), What Art Is Like (2012), and Closeness (2021), among other books.