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Professor Joshua Landy's research primarily focuses on the relationship between philosophy and literature, encompassing such thinkers as Nietzsche and Plato, such authors as Marcel Proust, Samuel Beckett, Gustave Flaubert, and Stéphane Mallarmé, and such filmmakers as Federico Fellini and Charlie Kaufman. Landy is co-director of the Literature and Philosophy Initiative at Stanford, a program that offers interdisciplinary tracks within undergraduate humanities majors, as well as graduate student workshops and faculty events.

Landy is the author of two books, Philosophy as Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust (Oxford, 2004) and How To Do Things with Fictions (Oxford, 2012). Philosophy as Fiction deals with issues of self-knowledge, self-deception, and self-fashioning in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, while raising the question of what literary form contributes to an engagement with such questions.  How To Do Things with Fictions explores a series of texts—primarily by Plato, Beckett, Mallarmé and Mark—that function as training-grounds for the mental capacities.

Landy is also the co-editor of two volumes, Thematics: New Approaches (SUNY, 1995) and The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age (Stanford, 2009). The Re-Enchantment of the World—a collection of essays by leading scholars in history, literature and philosophy—explores the range of secular enchantments still on offer in a modern, rational world. The definition of enchantment is conceived very broadly by the essayists and includes topics ranging from magic, mystery, and wonder to purpose, order, and meaning.

Landy has appeared on the NPR programs, "Forum" and "Philosophy Talk" (addressing narrative selfhood and the function of fiction) and has on various occasions been a guest host of Robert Harrison's "Entitled Opinions" (with Lera Boroditsky on Language and Thought, with Michael Saler on Re-Enchantment, with John Perry and Ken Taylor on the Uses of Philosophy, and with Alexander Nehamas on Beauty). 

Landy arrived at Stanford as an assistant professor in the fall of 1996. He has served as Department Chair (French and Italian), Director of Undergraduate Studies (French), and Director of Graduate Studies (French). Landy has received several awards including the Walter J. Gores Award for Teaching Excellence in 1999 and the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2001. He was also awarded a Fellowship at the Humanities Center from 1999 to 2000 and a Fellowship at the National Humanities Center from 2011 to 2012.

Landy teaches the courses "Philosophy and Literature," "Getting Through Proust," "Film and Philosophy," and "The Art of Living."

Key works

Oxford University Press, 2012.

Philosophy As Fiction: Self, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Philosophy and Literature 26, 2002: 1-23.

The Cruel Gift: Lucid Self-delusion in French Literature and German Philosophy, 1851-1914. Princeton University Press, 1997.

Thematics: New Approaches. With Claude Bremond and Thomas G. Pavel. State University of New York Press, 1995.

Prof. Landy in the News

July 3, 2012
Stanford scholar's new theory of fiction reveals how reading literary works is like bringing your...
January 18, 2011
Actor Michael Emerson discusses the philosophy behind the hit TV show "Lost" in Cubberley...
December 8, 2010
As the fall quarter ends, Associate Professor of French and Italian, Joshua Landy, gives students a...
December 7, 2010
As some universities reconsider the need for requiring students to study literature, Joshua Landy,...
February 11, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2009
November 14, 2007
Stanford Report, November 14, 2007
February 24, 2007
Stanford Magazine, January/February, 2007

Audio and Video

Philosophy + Literature @ Stanford

January 15, 2011

Stanford University YouTube channel

December 6, 2010

Forum with Michael Krasny (KQED).

May 4, 2009

Stanford Storytelling Project (KZSU).

January 29, 2009

Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison (KZSU).

November 4, 2011

Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford, February 23, 2006

February 23, 2006

Philosophy Talk (KALW).

November 22, 2005

Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison (KZSU).

November 1, 2005


  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Aesthetics

Contact information


B.A. Hons., French and German, Churchill College, Cambridge, 1988
M.A., Cambridge University, 1991
Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Princeton University, 1997