Publication Details

Shady Cosgrove, Literary ethics and the novel; or, can the novel save the world? the and is papers: Australian Association of Writing Programs conference, 2007.


Gayatri Spivak links literary reading and ethics when she writes: ‘If he (Paul Wolfowitz) had had serious training in literary reading and/or the imagining of the enemy as human, his position on Iraq would not be so inflexible’ (Spivak 2002: 23). The inference here (as Dorothy J Hale notes) is that if Wolfowitz had majored in English over political science, he would have made ethically superior decisions. Recent literary ethicists have argued that it is not only the particulars of the text, but the reading process itself that makes literary novels worthy of ethical investigation. Paying particular attention to work by literary ethicist Hale and narratologist James Phelan, this paper will examine new ethical theories of the novel to unpack the question of whether or not the novel can inspire ethical mores.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australasian Association of Writing Programs