Graduate School: Mixing Literature and Classical Political Philosophy
August 27, 2008 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in (further) graduate studies combining Political Philosophy/Theory and Literature. Any ideas about finding programs that mesh the two?

I have a year left of a MA in Classical - Modern (no Post-modern) Philosophy alongside a mixture of Ancient Greek and British Literature program. Since starting I've developed a major interest in Classical Political Philosophy and its relationship to Literature. More specifically I'm fascinated by Plato's literary style and the art of the modern novel.

I know precisely how I can combine the two, but where can I go to study such? I know it's rather particular, but that's what I'm interested in. I also realize "The Novel" is a bit general, but it's the genre as a whole I study: Don Quixote, Dostoevsky, Joyce, et cetera.

Will I have to pretty much design my curriculum to make it some interdisciplinary studies thing?

I have no interest in Marxist, Post-modern/Post-structuralism theory. I'm familiar with it and that's all I need or care for.

I'm interested in teaching but I have no delusions of grandeur. Actually, I'm currently looking to teach high school English and Government/Civics. No need to tell me about abysmal tenure availability at university level and such. Also, I have no debt and cost isn't too much of an issue either. (Not that I'm looking to pay.)

Oh. My BA is in English.

posted by Outis to Education (5 answers total)
Dealing with political-theory concepts in literature is so common you should be able to do it anywhere good. Likewise, I would bet you could write a dissertation about how political theory affects literature in most any top-notch lit program. Doing either would probably mean having someone from the other department on your committee, but that's common enough.

But you shouldn't.

If you're going to teach high school, go to an education program.

If you want to teach at the university level in literature/political theory, don't even bother unless you are a freakish genius.

If you're just interested, organize an in-person or online reading group without wasting 5--10 years on getting a PhD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2008

If you want to teach high school, why go through the pain of a PhD?
posted by k8t at 9:18 AM on August 27, 2008

Yes, you can do what you want in pretty much any literature program I can think of. I'm honestly a little confused why this would even be a question to someone who's already doing graduate study in the humanities. But honestly, you should listen to ROU_Xenophobe. A Ph.D. in literature is a hard enough slog when you're committed to it as the start of an academic career; without a professional need for the degree I don't think it is an enjoyable or advisable way to spend six to ten years.
posted by RogerB at 9:16 PM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: Do you read Greek? Are you good at languages generally? If you can do real research on Plato in Greek (not just pass the departmental reading exams), I think you have a better shot at making a career of this...

My (relatively uniformed thinking) is that programs interested in the Philosophy/Literature angles are more likely to want you to also study post-modern approaches.

Anyways... here's a list of Philosophy/Literature programs:

It's not clear to me what questions you are interested in... but from the little you write it seems like you'd be looking at primarily literature programs and doing some cognate work in Philosophy and not the other way around. Philosophy/Lit programs might be overkill.
posted by Jahaza at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Jahaza. As of yet I only have a basic introduction to ancient Greek. I can read anglicized alright, but need quite a bit more in the original department. I've got some books but don't much at the time at my current grad school. I had the option of Ancient Greek but didn't feel I could devote enough time to it to justify it.

I'm thinking that I'll go the high school teaching route, try and teach myself some Greek, study more texts on my own. I'll try and pick up a comparative literature MA along the way and, if super lucky, an MA in Philosophy at a school where I don't haven't to deal with the misguided Post-Modern theory stuff.

It'll take a while but I've got the time. Age 22 upon graduation of current MA.
posted by Outis at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2008

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