Existentialism: Philosophy and Literature


Students will engage with the philosophy and fiction of Jean-Paul Sartre. The texts studied will include the following English-language translations: Being and Nothingness (London: Routledge, 1993), Nausea (London: Penguin, 2000) and The Wall (New York: New Directions, 1975).

Students will learn to analyse philosophically and negotiate critically various aspects of the Sartrean account of human existence; they will also reflect on Sartre's position within the main movements of twentieth-century French literature, including Modernism, Surrealism and Postmodernism.



  • Semester 1 - 2015

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an understanding of existentialist thought

2. Analyse both philosophical and literary texts

3. Challenge their understanding of existence;

4. Reflect on the broader philosophical and literary contexts into which Sartre's writing fits;

5. Perform textual criticism, challenging existing meanings and understandings of canonical texts and offering their own interpretations of primary material;

6. Develop research skills by engaging with secondary material;

7. Analyse the ways in which world-views are moulded by society's control structures.


The Philosophy of Existentialism, including:

  • the notions of absurdity, contingency and freedom, being for itself, authenticity & bad faith.

Sartre's seminal novel 'Nausea' as embodying existential and phenomenological themes.

The fictional representations of Existentialism in 'The Wall' and other works;

Consideration of the literature of Existentialism in relation to Surrealism, Modernism & Postmodernism.

Replacing Course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): ENGL3015. Students who have successfully completed ENGL3015 are not eligible to enrol in PHIL3015.

Assumed Knowledge

20 units of Philosophy at 1000 level.

Assessment Items

Essay: 3 x Essays

Contact Hours


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term