Wilkes University

Read Novels for Philosophy Homework in 2021

If you enjoy reading novels, consider signing up for PHL 398: Virtues and Vices in Life and Literature for the Spring 2021 semester. 

We will read three novels as part of our exploration of questions such as whether virtues and vices change with time, location and circumstance and whether there should be gender differences in what we consider virtues and vices. Our novels will be Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers (the experiences of a family of Cameroonian immigrants in NYC) and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire (a story of Muslim siblings whose father was a jihadi). 

We will also be reading Eva Fogelman’s psychological study, Conscience and Courage, in which we learn of real people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. This work in particular gives rise to questions such as whether lying (which is usually considered a vice) might sometimes be a virtue.  What broader changes arise in our ideas of virtues if that is the case?        

The two main philosophical works that will be part of our exploration are Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Richard White’s Radical Virtues, in which he argues for updating our ideas of the virtues (and including some feminist thought and Eastern thought as part of that process).

We will have online synchronous discussions (with webcams on) every Thursday from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Other work will be done asynchronously. There will be weekly writings of various types and four papers, no exams.

This course is eligible for the women and gender studies minor, the ethics minor and honors credit. 

Contact Associate Professor Linda Paul at linda.paul@wilkes.edu for more information.