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.
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.
Patrick K. Dooley
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.
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.
From the Publisher
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. Womack, Kenneth
Part 1 Foreword Part 2 Preface Part 3 Ethical Criticism and Literary Theory Chapter 4 Premises on Art and Morality Chapter 5 The Moral Connections of Literary Texts Chapter 6 Why Ethical Criticism Can Never Be Simple Chapter 7 Ethical Criticism: What It Is and Why It Matters Chapter 8 Against Ethical Criticism Chapter 9 Who Is Responsible in Ethical Criticism? Chapter 10 The Absence of the Ethical: Literary Theory and Ethical Theory Chapter 11 Evaluative Discourse: A New Turn Towards the Ethical Chapter 12 The Moral and the Aesthetical: Literary Study and the Social Order Part 13 Philosophy Religion, and Literature Chapter 14 Reading for Life Chapter 15 The "Ancient Quarrel": Literature and Moral Philosophy Chapter 16 Stories and Morals Chapter 17 The Absence of Stories: Filling the Void in Ethics Chapter 18 Literature and the Catholic Perspective Chapter 19 Literature and Protestantism Chapter 20 Something to Measure By: Quaker Values in Literature Chapter 21 Literary Criticism and Religious Values Part 22 Writers' Responsibilities Chapter 23 A Writer's Duty Chapter 24 The Writer's Moral Sense Chapter 25 Imaginative Writing and the Jewish Experience Chapter 26 The Problem of Evil in Fiction Chapter 27 Poetry, Politics, and Morality Chapter 28 Art and Ethics? Chapter 29 What Violence in Literature Must Teach Us Chapter 30 Ethics and Literature Part 31 Readers and Ethical Criticism Chapter 32 The Case Against Huck Finn Chapter 33 Why We Still Need Huckleberry Finn Chapter 34 Huckleberry Finn: An Amazing Troubling Book Chapter 35 The Ethical Dimensions of Richard Wright's Native Son Chapter 36 Sethe's Choice: Beloved and the Ethics of Reading Chapter 37 Steinbeck, Johnson, and the Master/Slave Relationship Chapter 38 Censorship and the Classroom