The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature

Edited by Nöel Carroll, John Gibson

© 2016 – Routledge

498 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415889728
pub: 2015-12-11
Available for pre-order
US Dollars$210.00

About the Book

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature is an in-depth examination of literature through a philosophical lens, written by distinguished figures across the major divisions of philosophy. Its 40 newly-commissioned essays are divided into six sections:

  • historical foundations
  • what is literature?
  • aesthetics & appreciation
  • meaning & interpretation
  • metaphysics & epistemology
  • ethics & political theory

The Companion opens with a comprehensive historical overview of the philosophy of literature, including chapters on the study’s ancient origins up to the 18th-20th centuries. The second part defines literature and its different categories. The third part covers the aesthetics of literature. The fourth and fifth sections discuss the meaning and consequences of philosophical interpretation of literature, as well as epistemological and metaphysical issues such as literary cognitivism and imaginative resistance. The sixth section contextualizes the place of philosophy of literature in the "real world" with essays on topics such as morality, politics, race and gender.

Fully indexed, with helpful further reading sections at the end of each chapter, this Companion is an ideal starting point for those coming to philosophy of literature for the first time as well as a valuable reference for readers more familiar with the subject.


'Carroll and Gibson have assembled a truly impressive array of contributions from leading figures in the philosophy of literature. The papers in this volume provide not only a rich and comprehensive picture of the history of the field and its current state of play, but offer compelling original insights that push the discussion forward. It is a gem of a book, invaluable to anyone interested in these issues.'

Marya Schechtman, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

'What is literature? How does it work? Why does it matter? A complete guide to how contemporary philosophy tackles ancient questions, featuring contributions by established figures plus a new wave of scholars. Essential for anyone who wants to think about how to think about literature.'

Dominic McIver Lopes, University of British Columbia, Canada

'The core philosophical questions about literature have been with us since Plato and Aristotle gave them conflicting answers: do great literary works provide us with a unique knowledge, or is it all just morally compromising self-satisfying fantasizing? Contemporary philosophy improves on our understanding on these matters, by invoking relevant scientific results from cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology, and by refining and deploying analytic tools from recent philosophy of language and mind, epistemology and metaphysics. This book updates the state of the art with a wide range of accessible but also significantly original contributions from the most influential writers in the field, covering a wide range of topics, from fundamental issues such as narrative, fiction, authorship or interpretation, to the subject's history, genre, or some ethical and political implications.'

Manuel García-Carpintero, University of Barcelona, Spain

'Carroll and Gibson have rendered all philosophers interested in literature an inestimable service with this anthology. Like many of the great literary works discussed, the present volume combines depth of insight, breadth of coverage and rigorous analysis. For philosophers, it is an invaluable resource for study and teaching; for all of us, it is a pleasure to read and reflect on.'

Elisabeth Schellekens, Uppsala University, Sweden

Table of Contents

Introduction Noël Carroll & John GibsonPart 1: Historical Foundations 1. Ancient Beginnings Stephen Halliwell 2.Philosophy of Literature in The Eighteenth Century Paul Guyer 3. Philosophy of Literature in The Nineteenth Century Allen Speight 4.Twentieth Century European Philosophy of Literature Kristin Gjesdal 5.Analytic Philosophy of Literature Kristin Boyce Part 2: What is Literature? 6. The Idea of Literature Mark Rowe 7.The Novel Robert Chodat 8. Poetry Anna Christina Soy Ribeiro 9.Reading Plays as Literature Susan L. Feagin 10.Popular Fiction Aaron Meskin 11.Screenplays Ted Nannicelli 12.Evolutionary Approaches to Literature Stephen Davies 13. Canon and Tradition Stein Haugom Olsen Part 3: Aesthetics and Appreciation 14. Creativity Mathew Kieran 15. Authorship Paisley Livingston 16. Expression Peter Lamarque 17.Literary Style Wolfgang Huemer 18.Theme Eileen John 19.Character Garry Hagberg 20.Empathy John Gibson 21. The Paradox of Fiction Damien Freeman 22.The Paradox of Negative Emotions Eva Dadlez 23.Neuroaesthetics and Literature William P. Seeley Part 4: Meaning and Interpretation 24.Narrative Noël Carroll 25. Narrative Understanding Daniel D. Hutto 26.Interpretation Noël Carroll 27.Criticism Stephanie Ross 28. The Poetic Imagination Ernest Lepore & Matthew Stone 29.Metaphors in Literature Elisabeth Camp Part 5: Metaphysics and Epistemology 30. The Ontology of Literary Works Amie L. Thomasson 31.Fiction Noël Carroll 32.Fictional Truth and Truth through Fiction David Davies 33.Literary Cognitivism James Harold 34.Imagination Jonathan Gilmore 35.The Problem of Imaginative Resistance Tamar Szabo Gendler & Shen-yi Liao 36. Literature and "Theory of Mind" Gregory Currie Part 6: Ethics and Political Theory 37. Literature and Morality A. W. Eaton 38. Literature and Politics Espen Hammer 39.Literature & Race Paul C. Taylor 40.Literature and Gender Mary Bittner Wiseman

About the Editors

Noël Carroll is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His recent books include Art in Three Dimensions, On Criticism, Humor: A Very Short Introduction, Living in an Art World, and Minerva's Night Out: Philosophy, Pop Culture, and Moving Pictures.

John Gibson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Louisville.Among his publications are Fiction and the Weave of Life and, as editor, The Philosophy of Poetry. He is currently working on a book titled Poetry, Metaphor & Nonsense: An Essay on Meaning.

About the Series

Routledge Philosophy Companions

Routledge Philosophy Companions offer thorough, high quality surveys and assessments of the major topics and periods in philosophy. Covering key problems, themes and thinkers, all entries are specially commissioned for each volume and written by leading scholars in the field. Clear, accessible and carefully edited and organised, Routledge Philosophy Companions are indispensable for anyone coming to a major topic or period in philosophy, as well as for the more advanced reader.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics