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Event Details:

The Ethics of Reading

May 3rd - 4th, 2024


The Philosophy & Literature Workshop at Stanford and the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins welcome submissions for the 5th annual Philosophy & Literature Graduate Conference to be held in person on May 3rd - 4th, 2024 at Stanford University.


Conference Topic

This year’s conference topic, “The Ethics of Reading” brings together doctoral students and scholars that work at the intersection of philosophy, literature, the arts, and media studies to reflect on the role of ethics in creating and engaging with literature and, more broadly, art of all forms.



In 1987, J. Hillis Miller published The Ethics of Reading, in which he asks us: “In what sense can or should the act of reading be itself ethical or have an ethical import?” In wrestling with Miller’s question, we hope this conference can serve as a space to better understand the ethical obligations that we – as scholars, thinkers, and humans – owe to artworks. Indeed, we should inquire, as Candace Vogler does, as to how reading might respond to the question of how one should live. Is it necessary that life, as Miller puts it, “make a detour through the mirroring of art in order to become visible and hence lovable”? What does reading do for us? Need it to do anything? What do we owe to a text? To the beauty it gives life to? Is fictional empathy practical? Does it even exist?


Conference Details