Landmarks of Criticism: From Plato to Nietzsche

The course aims to review some of the writings of key figures in the history of literary criticism in order to trace an evolution in the way literature has been defined, understood and evaluated from Plato to the present. We follow shifting attitudes towards representation, truth, reality, being, subjectivity, origin and copy, similarity and difference all contribute to changes in genre formation and the coordinates of literary appreciation. 

One of the central questions raised in the course is - why art? why literature? 

In Driftworks, Jean-Francois Lyotard writes: 

"[The Arts] deem the pseudo-seriousness of authorities and Kapital, their “reality” delivered by dint of unfounded fears, frightful and miserable. They distrust politicians, their pretention to universality inherited from philosophers, and to directorship bequeathed by pedagogues. “Aesthetics” has been for the politicist I was (and still am?), not at all an alibi, a comfortable retreat, but the fault and fracture giving access to the subsoil of the political scene, the great vault of a cave on which the overturned or reversed recesses of this scene could be explored, a pathway allowing me to skirt or divert it"