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The Philosophy of Love and Sex

Project #: 34
Name: Alan Soble (ags38@drexel.edu; 267-343-4203)
Department: English and Philosophy
Academic Area: English, Philosophy

Title: The Philosophy of Love and Sex

Description:
I am writing a book; it is under contract with a British publishing company, and the complete manuscript is due September 15, 2014. (That date, even if flexible, is soon approaching, which is why help now is extremely desirable.) The topic (as it was for my 15 scholarly and teaching books so far and around 50 professional journal publications) is the philosophy of love and sex: what is sexual activity? [definition] what is its value? what constitutes healthy or morally decent sexual activity; what is the role of love in answering these questions. why do we seem to consider sex and love to be so important? how can philosophy and literature help us understand not only the inner phenomenological dimensions of sex and love but also their interpersonal, public, social, and political manifestations and features? both philosophy and literary theory and practice can help us understand sexuality (of different kinds, e.g., orientation) and love (of different kinds, from the platonic to the Christian). My early work in the area approached love and sex from a socialist and Marxist intellectual perspective, and some of that viewpoint still occupies my current writing, but it has been supplemented and in some areas overshadowed by a simpler utilitarian approach in which great weight is placed on "consent" (itself nuanced by Marxist considerations, as is done by a good deal of contemporary Feminist thought). My work on love and sex has become, over the years, more and more eclectic, which means my writings are of interest and accessible to a wide range of ideological (in the neutral sense) tendencies. The work I have done later in my career has acknowledged that the philosophy of love and sex must be mixed with the study of literature, be it fiction, poetry, literary theory, semiotics, queer theory, feminism -- even science fiction and fantasy literature. Participating in the project with me should be an enlightening experience for someone in either philosophy or literature.

Associated Independent Study:
I'm willing to conduct an independent study with the student, who would do for these credits work that would have been done anyway. Certain texts in the field (which we'll choose in collaboration) should be studied and written about critically. That task will consume many (deliberately unspecified) hours. The writing that the student does for the I.S. may well be incorporated into the book, if that satisfies the student's aspirations. Or, which is fine with me, the student could use the writing she or he does for the I.S. to enhance the beginning of a writing career.

Gained Experience:
I anticipate that the student will be involved in most if not all the activities (from the exciting to the tedious) that occur during and are necessary for learning a discipline, a body of knowledge, and the writing and publishing of a book. I list some of them: acquainting oneself with the major texts, views, and personnel in the philosophy of sex and love (and the relevant fiction); writing critical summaries of parts of this literature as a way of mastering its content; conducting library research on topics covered in the book; carefully reading chapters in progress (or by that time finished), looking not only for substantive matters to be clarified or expanded, but examining the text for copy-editable passages or phrases; checking references for comprehensiveness and accuracy; proofreading; and various tasks in preparing the manuscript, both hard copy and digital, for submission to the publisher. I think that having these experiences will give the student a good start on entering (or evaluating) the scholarly life.

Outcome:
We will be aiming at a book, a piece of creative philosophical-literary writing, partially fiction and partially nonfiction prose. This book is a new type of production for me -- mixing fiction and nonfiction. Being a member of a joint English-Philosophy department is in part responsible for that. Having as my assistant someone in the English-Philosophy department is ideal, especially if the person is as multi-rounded as the name of the department and who is therefore in a position to teach me (an old dog) a few things.

Tasks:
Please see above, under "what will the student gain?" A list is provided, plus some complementary descriptions.

Location:
Various areas of Drexel University, main campus, including the library and the Writing Center. Starbucks on campus, if there still is one, or some other coffee establishment that is conducive to conversation.

Meetings:
Definitely Tuesday and Thursday of the Summer Term, before 12:30 and after 3:30. Other days (MWF) as needed and doable.

Interview Availability:
April 18, 2014; April 22, 2014