Philosophy 375, or Philosophy in Literature, was not my favourite course. The reason I took it was mainly because I needed a literature course for my degree requirements, this one fit, and sounded interesting. I’d never taken any philosophy before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
Course Description: To begin with, the class talks about the philosophy of literature, that is, the definition of the word literature. After a couple weeks everyone comes to the conclusion that literature is subjective, the end. After that’s out of the way, you explore a variety of philosophical topics in different forms of literature, from morality to self-identity and poetry to Shakespeare to a novel from a list (hello Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!)
Textbook use: The course (when I took it, at least) had a course pack of readings from various philosophers, and some short stories. At first, I did all the readings very diligently, but I found that they were barely touched on in class, and spending two hours on them just wasn’t worth it. I think maybe two of the readings were important for one assignment, but other than that I just didn’t bother and it didn’t hurt me.
Homework: If you do all the readings, then that will take a lot of time, but otherwise the class consisted of four essays which made up the entire course mark. Kinda scary but also not that much homework, all things considered. And one of those essays counted as the exam, so we didn’t have to worry about writing something in a three-hour period during exam time.
Professor: I had Dr. Johnna Fisher when I took this class. She was nice and marked pretty fairly, and her lectures were easy to follow. I found that much of the time the class was discussion, so I didn’t take down everything she said in notes.
Class format: Three lectures per week of a large-ish class size (maybe about 50 people or so). Generally we went over general concepts of philosophy on Mondays, and the other two days were largely discussions. The only marks for the class were four essays.
Additional comments: The marking scheme for this class was pretty tough, as what they did was find the “most average” essay, assign it a 70, and mark everything else in comparison. The class average was obviously 70. but it made it hard to get an A. The class is also definitely more focused on philosophy than on literature, so if you thought you wrote really good English essays, you might need to revise your writing style. It’s all about content, and pretty phrases will get you nowhere. Also, if you’ve never taken a philosophy course and want to see what it’s about, I’d say this is a decent class to dip your feet into: there are no philosophy pre-requisites, you get a general tour of a variety of topics, and you don’t have to read a ton of articles and memorize different people’s opinions and remember who said what, when, etc. I turned out not to like it, but you might, who knows?