Philosophy and Art


This weekend event begins with Julia Weckend and an overview of Philosophy of Art – what is art, essentially? Might the philosophy of Wittgenstein provide a clue? Mette Hoeg then explores literature as a crucial space for the development of and experimentation with philosophical and scientific ideas. Using key texts from the Modernist period, including Kafka’s The Trial, she explores how literature and fictional narrative enable humans to navigate the radical uncertainties of scientific and technological progress and of existence in general.

Dan O’Brien considers the relation between philosophy and the visual arts and the various ways in which artists can be seen as pursuing philosophical investigations through their art practice. On Sunday, Warren Buckland then turns our attention to fiction and the ontological status of implicit cinematic narrators in fictional narratives, viewed through the philosophical perspectives of realism, nominalism, and conceptualism.

Finally, Julia Weckend notes about two apparently indiscernible objects that one might be a work of art and the other not. Examples include Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes and Tracy Emin’s My Bed. Why is Emin’s bed an artwork, while yours isn’t? Getting a hold of that certain extra should give us an idea of what makes something a work of art.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 BST on 18 October 2023.

Programme details

Saturday 21 October 2023

Registration at Rewley House reception

What is art and who decides?
Julia Weckend

Tea/coffee break

‘Negative capability’: navigating ethical and existential uncertainties with literature
Mette Leonard Høeg


Dan O'Brien

Tea/coffee break

What is art and who decides?
Julia Weckend, Mette Leonard Høeg, Warren Buckland, Dan O'Brien

Event ends for the day

Dinner (optional)

Sunday 22 October 2023

Breakfast (residents only)

The ontology of the implicit cinematic narrator
Warren Buckland


Artworks and the identity of indiscernibles
Julia Weckend

Lunch and end of weekend


Description Costs
Course Fee (includes tea/coffee) £155.00
Saturday baguette lunch £6.50
Saturday dinner £26.00
Saturday hot lunch (three courses) £17.60
Single B&B (Saturday night) £101.40
Single room only (Saturday night) £87.20
Sunday baguette lunch £6.50
Sunday hot lunch (three courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Julia Weckend


Julia has taught philosophy at the Universities of Reading and Southampton before joining Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. She regularly teaches weekly classes as well as courses for Oxford University Summer School for Adults and Oxford Experience. Her academic research focuses on issues in metaphysics and epistemology. She has published papers and edited two volumes in the history of philosophy, and she is a co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Leibniz’s Philosophy (2023).

Dr Mette Leonard Høeg


Mette Leonard Høeg is a Carlsberg Foundation Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. She holds a PhD in English from King's College London, is author of Uncertainty and Undecidability in Twentieth-Century Literature and Literary Theory (Routledge, 2022) and editor of and contributor to Literary Theories of Uncertainty (Bloomsbury, 2021). Her current research is in consciousness studies and ethics with a focus on ego-dissolution, anti-essentialist notions of self and anti-anthropocentrism in literature and fictional narrative. She also works as a literature and film critic and is the literary editor of the Danish news media Frihedsbrevet.

Dr Dan O'Brien


Dan O’Brien is a Reader and Subject Co-ordinator for Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University. He is the book reviews editor for Hume Studies, epistemology editor for The Philosophers Magazine and founder and convenor of the Oxford Hume Forum. He is the author of Hume on Testimony (Routledge, 2022), An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Polity, 2nd edition, 2016); editor of Hume on the Self and Personal Identity (Palgrave, 2022) and Gardening: Philosophy for Everyone (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010); co-author of Hume’s Critique of Religion: Sick Men’s Dreams (Springer, 2013) and Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Reader’s Guide (Continuum, 2006); and co-editor of Teleology and Modernity (Routledge, 2019) and The Bloomsbury Companion to Hume (2015).

Dr Warren Buckland


Warren Buckland is Reader in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University. His research interests include film theory, narratology and contemporary American cinema. He is author/editor several books, including Narrative and Narration: Analyzing Cinematic Storytelling (2020); Film Theory: Rational Reconstructions (2012); Film Theory and Contemporary Hollywood Movies (ed., 2009); Puzzle Films: Complex Storytelling in Contemporary Cinema (ed., 2009); and The Cognitive Semiotics of Film (2000).


Please use the 'Book' or button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only. If you would like to book a double or a twin room, please email

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay: please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.