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Open lecture: Writing and Life

By Heikki A. Kovalainen (Tampere, Finland)

Info about event


Wednesday 11 May 2016,  at 16:00 - 17:30

In my talk, I bring together perspectives from philosophy and creative writing to talk about the relationship between writing and life. First, I deal with the ethical question as to whether authoring fiction presupposes a certain kind of life.
Martha Nussbaum has famously argued that literature makes us better people—so my I aim will be to invert the claim and see if we need to be better people in order to write.

Second, I discuss the tie between writing and life vis-à-vis the relationship between fact and fiction such as manifested through literary examples. In addition to examples drawn from my own prose, I will refer to
Henry David Thoreau’s famous experiment of living at the Walden pond — which produced Walden the literary classic. Finally, I will conclude with a few reflections on the linkage between writing fiction and thinking about (and researching) fiction.

Heikki A. Kovalainen is a philosopher and an author interested in the link between fiction and thought. He holds a docentship in history of ideas, and he’s currently working in the Institute for Advanced Social Research at the University of Tampere, Finland. He’s previosly worked as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University, and in additon to the novel Rudiments of the Rotten Life (the synopsis of which is presented above), he’s published two monographs on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophy.