Literature

3 - Created In Our Image: Xenophanes Against Greek Religion

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In this episode, Peter talks about the Greek gods in Homer and Hesiod, and the criticism of the poets by the Presocratic philosopher Xenophanes.

15 - Socrates without Plato: the Accounts of Aristophanes and Xenophon

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In the first of several episodes on Socrates, Peter discusses his portrayals in "The Clouds" of Aristophanes and in the works of the historian Xenophon.

33 - Last Judgments: Plato, Poetry and Myth

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Plato criticized both the epic poetry of Homer and Hesiod, and the tragic and comic poets. Yet he invented myths of his own. So what was his attitude towards literature and myth? Peter tackles this question in a final episode on Plato.

49 - Stage Directions: Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics

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A penultimate episode on Aristotle considers his discussion of persuasive speech in the Rhetoric and his account of ancient tragedy in the Poetics.

84 - Silver Tongues in Golden Mouths: Rhetoric and Ancient Philosophy

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Peter looks at the interaction between rhetoric and philosophy in the Roman Empire, discussing authors like Quintilian, Lucian and Themistius.

135 - Undercover Brothers: Philosophy in the Būyid Age

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Miskawayh, al-‘Āmirī, al-Tawḥīdī, the Brethren of Purity and Ismā'īlī missionaries bring together philosophy with Persian culture, literature and Islam.

214. The Good Book: Philosophy of Nature

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As early medieval science blossoms, Bernard Silvestris and Alan of Lille personify Nature in their philosophical prose-poems.

254. Love, Reign Over Me: The Romance of the Rose

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Sex, reason, and religion in Jean de Meun’s completion of an allegory of courtly love, the Roman de la Rose.

268. To Hell and Back: Dante Alighieri

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Italy’s greatest poet Dante Alighieri was also a philosopher, as we learn from his Convivio and of course the Divine Comedy.

This episode is dedicated to John Kleiner, the inspirational teacher with whom I had my first experience reading Dante.

292. Say it With Poetry: Chaucer and Langland

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Philosophical themes in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and “Troilus and Criseyde,” as well as Langland’s “Piers Plowman.”

293. The Good Wife: Gender and Sexuality in the Middle Ages

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Medieval attitudes towards homosexuality, sex and chastity, and the status of women. Authors discussed include Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, and Chaucer.

58. Amber Carpenter on Animals in Indian Philosophy

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An interview about the status of nonhuman animals in ancient Indian philosophy and literature.

294. Isabel Davis on Sexuality and Marriage in Chaucer

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Peter is joined by Isabel Davis to discuss marriage, sex and chastity in Chaucer, focusing on the Wife of Bath's speech.

62. Kit Patrick on Philosophy and Indian History

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The host of the History of India podcast joins us for the final episode on India.

298. Renaissance Men: Ramon Llull and Petrarch

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The Renaissance ideals of humanism and universal science flourish already in the medieval period, in the works of Petrarch and Ramon Llull.

6. Heated Exchanges: Philosophy in Egyptian Narratives and Dialogues

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Demands for ma’at (justice or truth) and a confrontation with the soul, in the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant and Dispute Between a Man and his Ba.

7. Richard Parkinson on Egyptian Poetry

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Egyptologist Richard Parkinson joins us to talk about the context and meaning of the Eloquent Peasant and other literary works of ancient Egypt.

8. Solomon, Socrates, and Other Sages: Early Ethiopian Philosophy

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Translations of religious and philosophical texts into Ge’ez, a national epic called the Kebra Nagast, and other developments in the story of philosophy in Ethiopia.

306. Collectors’ Items: Photius and Byzantine Compilations

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Photius, “the inventor of the book review,” and other Byzantine scholars who preserved ancient learning.

311. The Elements of Style: Rhetoric in Byzantium

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Psellos and other experts in rhetoric explore how this art of persuasion relates to philosophy.

16. Samuel Imbo on Okot p'Bitek and Oral Traditions

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A conversation with Sam Imbo on approaching oral traditions as philosophy and the Ugandan thinker and poet Okot p'Bitek.

26. Kai Kresse on the Anthropology of Philosophy

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An interview with Kai Kresse (pictured here with Ustadh Mahmoud Mau) who discusses his efforts to do "anthropology of philosophy" on the Swahili Coast.

29. Out of Africa: Slavery and the Diaspora

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An introduction to Africana philosophical thought as it emerged from the modern experience of slavery and colonization by Europeans.

32. Talking Book: Early Africana Writing in English

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Eighteenth century black authors touch on philosophical themes in autobiographical narratives, poetry, and other literary genres.

33. Young, Gifted, and Black: Phillis Wheatley

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Phillis Wheatley astonishes colonial Americans with her exquisite and precocious poetry and reflects on the liberating power of the imagination.

330. Republic of Letters: Italian Humanism

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Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruni combine eloquence with philosophy, taking as their model the refined language and republican ideals found in Cicero.

35. Letters from the Heart: Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker

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Ignatius Sancho and Benjamin Banneker make their mark on the history of Africana thought through letters that reflect on the power of sentiment.

337. More Rare Than the Phoenix: Italian Women Humanists

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Cassandra Fedele, Isotta Nogarola, and Laura Cereta seek fame and glory through eloquence and learning.

47. Written by Himself: the Life of Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass' journey from slave to leading figure of 19th century American thought.

50. Nation Within a Nation: Martin Delany

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He is called a “father of black nationalism,” but Martin Delany also promoted integration in American society. Can the apparent tension be resolved?

51. I Read Men and Nations: Sojourner Truth and Frances Harper

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The moral crusades of Sojourner Truth and Frances Harper, activists against racial and gender oppression.

60. Though Late, It Is Liberty: Abolitionism in Brazil

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Abolitionists Luiz Gama and Joaquim Nabuco, and the great novelist Machado de Assis, react to the injustices of slaveholding in Brazil.

67. Chike Jeffers on Slavery and Diasporic Philosophy

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Co-host Chike joins Peter to look back at series two and ahead to series three.

77. A Race Capital: the Harlem Renaissance

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The artistic flowering of the 1920s known as the Harlem Renaissance raises important questions about identity and the purpose of art.

78. Freedom Through Art: Alain Locke

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The aesthetics of Alain Locke and its basis in his theory of value judgments.

82. The Florida Project: Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston’s interest in Africana folklore feeds into her great novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

84. Live Long and Protest: W.E.B. Du Bois, 1920-1963

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Du Bois moves to the left, and revisits and refines older positions during the latter half of his very long life.

86. French Connection: The Negritude Movement

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Our first look at the emergence of the Negritude movement in Paris in the 1930s, with a focus on the early leadership of the Nardal sisters and Leon Damas.

87. Call It Intuition: Leopold Senghor

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Leopold Senghor compares different ways of knowing while developing his theory of Negritude and combining the roles of poet and politician.

88. The Surreal Deal: Aimé and Suzanne Césaire

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Negritude thinkers Aimé and Suzanne Césaire embrace surrealism and reflect on the relationships between poetry, knowledge, and identity.

90. Move Fast and Break Things: C.L.R. James

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The Trinidadian historian and cultural critic C.L.R. James applies Marxist analysis to the Haitian Revolution, American cinema, and Shakespeare.

94. How Did You Happen? Richard Wright

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Famous for his incendiary novel Native Son, Richard Wright responds in his multifaceted writings to sociology, communism, colonialism, and existentialism.

95. Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison

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Ralph Ellison provides a new metaphor for the experience of racism in his Invisible Man and tackles topics of art and identity in his essays.

96. A Lover’s War: James Baldwin

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In The Fire Next Time and other writings, the essayist and novelist James Baldwin seeks to dispel the illusions surrounding racial and sexual difference.

397. Do As the Romans Did: French Humanism

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We begin to look at philosophy in Renaissance France, beginning with humanists like Budé and the use of classical philosophy by poets du Bellay and Ronsard.

398. Pearls of Wisdom: Marguerite of Navarre

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A Renaissance queen supports philosophical humanism and produces literary works on spirituality, love, and the soul.

399. Seriously Funny: Rabelais

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In his outrageous novel about the giants Pantagruel and Gargantua, Rabelais engages with scholasticism, humanism, medicine, the reformation, and the querelle des femmes.

401. Word Perfect: Logic and Language in Renaissance France

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Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples and Julius Caesar Scaliger fuse Aristotelianism with humanism to address problems in logic and literary aesthetics.

106. Combat Literature: Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth

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Fanon’s incendiary final work explores the violent process of decolonization.

108. Or Does It Explode? Lorraine Hansberry

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The author of the famous play, A Raisin in the Sun, explores questions of violence, sexuality, and more during her too brief life. 

112. Poems That Kill: the Black Arts Movement

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African American literature of the late 1960s reflects the Black Power movement, in the works of such authors as Amiri Baraka, Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Larry Neal, and Sonia Sanchez.

118. African Survivals: Abdias do Nascimento

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Abdias do Nascimento, a leader in Brazilian theater and politics, and his theory of Quilombismo.

415. The Tenth Muse: Marie de Gournay

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Marie le Jars de Gourney, the “adoptive daughter” of Montaigne, lays claim to his legacy and argues for the equality of the sexes.

121. No Agreement: Fela Kuti and Wole Soyinka

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The political and musical revolution of Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, the social critique of his cousin, the playwright Wole Soyinka, and the extraordinary career of Fela's mother Funmilayo.

419. Write Till Your Ink Be Dry: Humanism in Britain

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Humanism comes to England and Scotland, leading scholars like Thomas Eylot and Andrew Melville to rethink philosophical education.

Image: Queen Elizabeth's translation of Boethius

420. No Place Will Please Me So: Thomas More

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What is the message of the famous, but elusive, work Utopia, and how can it be squared with the life of its author?

125. Phenomenal Woman: The Black Women’s Literary Renaissance

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Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou explore the themes of black feminism (or “womanism”) in their fiction. 

Warning: this episode contains discussion of sexual violence and suicide.

423. Heaven-Bred Poesy: Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser

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We begin to look at Elizabethan literature, as Sidney argues that poetry is superior to philosophy, and philosophy is put to use in Spenser’s Fairie Queene.

424. Hast Any Philosophy In Thee? William Shakespeare

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How should we approach Shakespeare’s plays as philosophical texts? We take as examples skepticism and politics in Othello, King Lear, and Julius Caesar.

127. Knowing the Difference: Audre Lorde

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In poetry and prose, especially her collection Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde explores ideas of difference, eroticism, and feminist theory.

425. Patrick Gray on Shakespeare

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We're joined by Patrick Gray to discuss Shakespeare's knowledge of philosophy, his ethics, and his influence on such thinkers as Hegel.

128. Marginal Comments: bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins

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We bring the story of black feminism up to the turn of the century with the incisive works of bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins.

426. A Face Without a Heart: Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Individualism

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How the Renaissance turn towards individual identity is reflected in Shakespeare's most famous play. 

129. Afrophone Home: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o

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How one of Kenya's greatest writers came to argue that African literature should be written in African languages.

427. Brave New World: Shakespeare’s Tempest and Colonialism

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Can Shakespeare’s Tempest be read as a reflection on the English encounter with the peoples of the Americas?

130. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o on Himself

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The great Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o joins us to speak about his career, his influences, and the power and politics of language.

428. Weird Sisters: Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Witchcraft

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How Macbeth reflects the anxieties and explanations surrounding witchcraft and witch-hunting in early modern Europe.

132. French Creolizing: Edouard Glissant and the Créolité Movement

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Poet, novelist, playwright and philosopher Edouard Glissant, his theory of "creolization", and the Creolists who were influence by him. 

133. John Drabinski on Edouard Glissant

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The author of an important book on Glissant joins us to talk about his approach to this major Caribbean thinker.

140. Cornel West on Himself

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Cornel West joins us to look back on the development of his thought and the many authors who have inspired him.