Theory of Conversation


What are the purposes of conversation, and how do we navigate these purposes? How do we excuse, justify, and explain ourselves to one another; how do we forgive each other; how do we come to agree with one another? When do we reach the conclusion that we have nothing more to say, and why? In this course, we will approach these and similar questions through the tradition of ordinary language philosophy as represented by Wittgenstein, Austin, and Cavell. We will then apply the method of ordinary language philosophy to conversations found in the plays of Beckett and Shakespeare, as well as the films of Hawks and McCarey. Students will be expected to write a short paper each week.

Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about this course.