Ethics, Literature, and Theory: An Introductory Reader

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9780742532342: Ethics, Literature, and Theory: An Introductory Reader
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Ethics, Literature, and Theory: An Introductory Reader brings together the work of contemporary scholars, teachers, and writers into lively discussion on the moral role of literature and the relationship between aesthetics, art, and ethics.

Do the rich descriptions and narrative shapings of literature provide a valuable resource for readers, writers, philosophers, and everyday people to imagine and confront the ultimate questions of life? Do the human activities of storytelling and complex moral decision-making have a deep connection? What are the moral responsibilities of the artist, critic, and reader? What can religious perspectives―from Catholic to Protestant to Mormon―contribute to literary criticism? What do we mean when we talk about ethical criticism and how does this differ from the common notion of censorship?

Thirty well known contributors reflect on these questions including: literary theorists Marshall Gregory, James Phelan, and Wayne Booth; philosophers Martha Nussbaum, Richard Hart, and Nina Rosenstand; and authors John Updike, Charles Johnson, Flannery O'Connor, and Bernard Malamud. Divided into four sections, with introductory matter and questions for discussion, this accessible anthology represents the most crucial work today exploring the interdisciplinary connections among literature, religion and philosophy.

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About the Author:

Stephen K. George is professor of English at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Review:

Since the time of Plato, our culture has debated whether literature can fairly be judged by ethical standards or whether it is essentially beyond the realm of ethics. This unique collection, which brings together many eloquent voices on opposing sides of the question, offers a wonderful way to gain perspective on the great debate and to introduce it to students. (Gerald Graff, Professor of English, University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Clueless in Academe)

A rapidly growing number of serious and attentive readers are finding rich rewards in exploring the overlap between philosophy and literature, particularly when they scrutinize the commentary that moral discourse and dramatic fiction can offer each other. Editor Stephen George has a keen and informed sense of the issues of overlap, cross-fertilization and mutual criticism between fiction and ethics and, as a result, his Ethics, Literature, and Theory covers the terrain masterfully. Helpful and persuasive essays represent the 'permeable membrane' view of moral philosophy and literature while George also sees to it that the agnostics of the literature and moral philosophy interface are heard from. (Patrick K. Dooley, Professor of Philosophy, St. Bonaventure University)

While Wayne Booth is certainly correct in his assertion that 'ethical criticism can never be simple,' Ethics, Literature, and Theory: An Introductory Reader offers, hands down, the most lucid and comprehensive anthology to ethics and literary study in the humanities. Rigorous, illuminating, and endlessly thought-provoking, Ethics, Literature, and Theory affords us with a vital intellectual arena for pondering the ethical questions that impact not only the texts that we read, but our lives as well.

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