04538 - Poetics and Rhetoric

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Eleonora Caramelli (Modulo 1) Francesco Cattaneo (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Philosophy (cod. 9216)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the lecture course the students acquire both a basic knowledge of the various disciplinary and doctrinal identities developed by Poetics and Rhetoric during its history, and the capacity to deal with guided interpretations of one or more than one among the “classics” that represented a turning point in the history of this discipline.

Course contents

First part:

The experience of language in Heidegger’s path of thinking.

Since language has become between the 19th and 20th Century a central philosophical issue both in the hermeneutic and in the analytic traditions, the second part of the course deals with a philosopher that has played a leading role in this debate: Martin Heidegger.

His understanding of language will be considered under several aspects.

In first place, great attention will be devoted to the relationship between language and the essence of man and to the problem of “huamnism”. A the same time, in order to come to a better understanding of the essence of language, the meaning and the possibilities of the dialogue between poetry and philosophy will be discussed.

The relationship between poetry (or art in general) and philosophy has a long tradition, characterized at times by a mutual distrust (the ancient conflict mentioned by Plato).

This distrust stems from the distance that separates philosophy, considered as true speech, and poetry, considered as false speech.

But both, philosophy as well as poetry, are, each in its own right, an experience of language.

Moving from this this fundamental connection, Heidegger deeply rethinks their relationship: he never implies that they are the same thing, but he asserts the fruitfulness of their encounter.

To understand the direction of the dialogue between philosophy and poetry in Heidegger and to better grasp its very broad consequences, we will discuss on one side the metaphysical experience of language and on the other side the experience of language peculiar to a philosophical perspective that aims at going beyond metaphysics.


Second part:

Hegel and the Phenomenology of Spirit. Language and experience, poetry and philosophy.

 The course aims at investigating some aspects of the specificity of Hegel's philosophical prose in his 1807 work, the Phenomenology of the Spirit, whose development has not infrequently been associated with that of certain literary genres and which has also been defined as the 'novel of the spirit'. In order to do so, the course will first focus on the first chapter of the work, where the role of language is very important, and then on a few key chapters of which a textual reading will be made.

The second part of the course focuses on Hegel's treatment of tragedy in Chapter V and Chapter VII , with particular reference to the case of Antigone. Given that the 1807 work seems to incorporate pieces of Sophocles' tragedy within it, we will ask how the Hegelian restitution, while largely taking over its development, sometimes deviates radically from the Sophoclean text.

The case of Antigone could therefore constitute, in the "Phenomenology of the Spirit", a true philosophical translation of a literary text, which nevertheless allows us to rethink the difference between philosophical language and literary language.


Class schedule

First week: introduction to Hegel; Hegel’s writings of the 1790s

Second week: introduction to the “Phenomenology of spirit”; chapters I and II reading and commentary

Third week: chapter IV reading and commentary; the role of Antigone in the chapter devoted to the spirit

Fourth week: reading of the tragedy Antigone by Sophocles; comparison of the figure of Antigone in the 'Phenomenology of the Spirit' with the character in the tragedy

Fifth week: the role of poetry in Hegel’s Aesthetics


First part:

Martin Heidegger, Lettera sull’umanismo, in Segnavia, a cura di F. Volpi, Adelphi, Milano 1978, pp. 267-315.

Jean-Paul Sartre, L'esistenzialismo è un umanismo, Mursia, Milano.

Francesco Cattaneo, "Sulle più remote montagne". Pensare e poetare in Heidegger, in «Estetica. Studi e ricerche», a cura di F. Cattaneo e F. Grigenti, n. 1 (2022), pp. 67-88.

Francesco Cattaneo, Alberto Giacomelli, Rosa Maria Marafioti (a cura di), Heidegger e i poeti, in «Paradosso», n. 2 (2022).

Richard Capobianco, La Via dell'Essere di Heidegger, tr. it. a cura di Francesco Cattaneo, Orthotes, Napoli-Salerno 2023.


Second part:

G.W.F. Hegel, La fenomenologia dello spirito, a cura di G. Garelli, Einaudi, Torino 2008: pp. 69-79; 121-136; 291-318.

G.W.F. Hegel, Lezioni di Estetica (Hotho 1823), a cura di P. D’Angelo, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2005, “La poesia”: pp. 262-302.

Sofocle, Antigone, in una edizione a scelta.

J. Hyppolite, Genesi e struttura della Fenomenologia dello spirito di Hegel (1946), trad. it. di V. Cicero, Milano, Bompiani 2005, pp.8-123; pp. 191-215.

G. Garelli, C. Gentili, “Il tragico”, Il Mulino, Bologna 2010, pp. 133-143.


Programm for non attending students:

Francesco Cattaneo, Ripensare l'umanità dell'uomo. Per un attraversamento storico-concettuale della «Lettera sull'"umanismo"» di Martin Heidegger, in «Paradosso», n. 2, 2019, pp. 91-2018.

E. Caramelli, Literary Diegesis, Fiction and Philosophical Discourse in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. A Case Study, «Estetica. Studi e Ricerche», 1 (2022), pp. 19-34

Teaching methods

The course will consist of frontal lessons; sources will be commented and discussed and the problems and their historical context synthetically reconstructed.

Assessment methods

It's mandatory to bring all the texts for the final proof.

The final proof will take place in the form of an oral examination. During the examination the teacher will assess whether the student has achieved or not some basic educational goals: knowledge of the texts and capacity to contextualize authors and works; comprehension of the fundamental concepts and capacity to provide a correct interpretation of them; clarity in the explanation of concepts and accuracy in the use of philosophical terminology; capacity to establish connections between the various authors and themes from both a historical and a strictly speaking conceptual point of view. During the oral examination the teacher will assess if the student possesses the abovementioned knowledge and skills in a (more or less) complete, precise and adequate way, or vice-versa in a (more or less) incomplete, vague and superficial way. The final grade will correspondently vary from excellent (30 and honors) to very good (30) to good (27-29) to fairly good (24-26) to more than enough (21-23) to merely enough (18-21) to unsatisfactory (<18).

Teaching tools

All the aforementioned texts (in the specified editions) are an essential tool in order to actively participate in the classes. It is recommended to get hold of the texts before classe because specific parts will be read and commented.

Some other texts will be distributed through the channels offered by the Unibo portal.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Cattaneo

See the website of Eleonora Caramelli