Poetic Truth: Plato’s Dialogues

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Summer 2018 quarter (First Session)

Taught by

queer studies, philosophy, poetics

Plato's dialogues are among the oldest surviving philosophical writings. Aside from their antiquity and influence (A.N. Whitehead famously described European philosophy as "a series of footnotes to Plato"), they have special interest due to their dramatic form. We'll carefully study (read, discuss, and respond to) five of these dialogues, in which Plato portrays the trial and death of his teacher Socrates while engaging in themes of truth, justice, and immortality. We will also read Plato's erotic dialogue Symposium.  We will work to study Plato in his own context as well as discussing how his ideas have been interpreted over the centuries, and what relevance they may have today (specifically with respect to questions of duty, religion, eroticism and gender). Classroom time will be divided between succinct lectures and seminar discussion. Students can expect to write regular reading responses and two critical essays, with additional possibilities for creative writing in the dialogue form. The program is suitable for all levels; it can work as an introduction to philosophy, as well as for students wishing to deepen their knowledge of the influence of a major figure.

Students taking 8 credits will also participate in Saturday writing workshops in addition to the Tuesday and Thursday meetings.

Program Details

Fields of Study

literature philosophy writing


Summer Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Day and Weekend

Advertised Schedule

Tu/Th 3:30-7:30p; Sat 10a-6p (8 credit students only)

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning