The Humane Reader: Friendship and Literature |

by Jessica C. Murphy

The Humane Reader: Friendship and Literature

Plenary Speakers: Peter McDonald, Christopher Ricks, Mark Vernon

– a One-Day Conference to be held on 6th July 2010, 11-7pm, at the School of Humanities, University of Bristol

Friendship is one of the most important of human relationships, and literature, itself full of friends and friendships, may at times be one of our most important friends.

This one-day conference aims to explore critically productive ways of talking about the nature and role of friendship in the creation and enjoyment of literary texts. Given friendship’s famous resistance to definition, that is no simple matter. The conference, by discussing particular textual examples of the relationship between literature and friendship from 1500 to the present day, aims to address some important, general questions:

  • How have our notions and ways of talking about friendship changed?
  • How significant have those various notions been to our hopes for the shaping power of literature, and the humanities?
  • Can one talk of a humane reader, or of a humanity born of reading?

As that suggests, this conference does not want to avoid considering the very difficult subject of the role of literature in our lives, but rather, while recognizing the difficulties, to offer some examples of how literature enriches or impoverishes our lived experience. To that end the conference will conclude with a plenary session open to the general public, in which Professor Christopher Ricks and Dr Mark Vernon will speak about the ways in which literary and philosophic texts have shaped their understandings of friendship.

Proposals (of up to 300 words) for 20 minute papers should be sent to Dr J Lee via j.lee(at) by April 16th 2010.

via The Humane Reader: Friendship and Literature |