The Will to Disbelieve: Pragmatism and Method in Literary Studies – Nicholas Gaskill – Seminar A19

Posted on January 17, 2020

17 January 2020 - 14 h 00 min - 17 h 00 min

“Autres Objets du Pragmatisme” / “Pragmatist Crossings” is a work group which we constituted following our AFEA workshop on that same theme last spring. It will meet several times during the year to discuss texts and hear a few invited speakers. We hope that this will eventually lead us to undertake broader projects together (conferences and publications).

This interdisciplinary workshop will look into the works of intellectuals affiliated to pragmatism in the U.S. (John Dewey, Alice Dewey, William James, Charles Saunders Peirce, Jane Addams, W. E. B. Du Bois…) and hopes to measure the impact of pragmatism beyond philosophy and more largely beyond the boundaries of disciplinary thinking. We are interested in intellectual genealogies or entanglements that will open to new understandings of the objects we work with – within the arts and literature of the United States, intellectual and institutional history, politics.

The first session will take place at Université de Paris, room 830, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges, 2pm-5pm.

Campus Paris Diderot,
bât. Olympe de Gouges,
Room 830
Place Paul Ricoeur
75013 Paris

Nicholas Gaskill (U. Oxford, Oriel College) will give a talk on “The Will to Disbelieve: Pragmatism and Method in Literary Studies.” The second part of the workshop will consist in a collective discussion of a selection of texts by Walt Whitman that we would like to read in conversation with essays by William James.

Texts we will be discussing:

William JAMES, “Is Life Worth Living?” (Part I); “The Sentiment of Rationality,” in The Will to Believeand Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, 1897. 

–, “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings,” in Talks to Teachers on Psychology: And to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals, 1899.

–, “The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness,” in The Varieties of Religious Experience, 1902.

–, “Lecture 1: The Present Dilemma in Philosophy”; “Lecture 8 “Pragmatism and Religion,” in PragmatismA New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking,  1907. 

Walt WHITMAN, “To You,” “Song of myself” (Sections 1- 5); “One Hour to Madness and Joy,” “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”; “Song of the Broad-Axe,”  “Song at Sunset,” “So Long,” Leaves of Grass,  1891-2