Existential Detective Fiction

Existential Detective Fiction I: The Foundations of Fate and Freedom

The Fall 2015 session of Existential Detective Fictions investigates fate and freedom as explanations for events in our lives. Each lecture references Oedipus Rex, and other readings deepen engagement with this text. This class offers terms and concepts that will unfold during future iterations of this course—these will focus primarily on fictional texts that play with the understanding of the human situation introduced by the figure of Oedipus. This course will be of interest to students of philosophy and literature, as well as those who unconsciously shift from describing existence as determined by a series of cause and effect (which a detective explores) to existence that lacks all determinism. The hope of the class is to expose the flaws of both these explanatory mechanisms to reveal a more uncertain, and far more interesting, domain of experience. No prior experience with philosophy is necessary, and texts will be available at Prairie Lights.

26 August: The Text of Oedipus

02 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part I

09 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part II

16 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part III

23 September: Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder” Introduction (RR)

30 September: Sartre, Being and Nothingness

07 October: Freud, Interpretation of Dreams

14 October: Oedipus Rex: The First Existential Detective

Texts: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Vocation of Man, ISBN 978-0872200371, Published by Hackett Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder, ISBN 978-0394757650, Published by Vintage


Existential Detective Fiction II: Small Crimes



Existential Detective Fiction III: The Fall and the Erasers

These classes look to fate and freedom as the rivaling explanations we use to interpret our lives, framed in terms of narrative strategies. Classes blend narratives, philosophy and psychology to inquire about ways we can come to know ourselves and our lives more honestly. The spring version of this course will be run seminar style, where attendees will be expected to have read materials in advance.