Dr. Jeffrey R. Di Leo, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and assistant professor of English and philosophy at the University of Houston-Victoria, recently published From Socrates to Cinema: An Introduction to Philosophy. The McGraw-Hill textbook is Di Leo’s fifth book and second philosophy textbook.
Featuring over 130 readings and 90 film descriptions, Di Leo’s 1,100-page book is described by McGraw-Hill editor Jon-David Hague as “perhaps the most extensive topical introduction to philosophy available.” It is also the first introductory philosophy textbook to extensively utilize film to introduce students to philosophy, including issues ranging from the nature of truth and knowledge to the existence of God and faith.
“Dr. Di Leo’s work in philosophy and film is an outstanding example of the commitment at UHV to a model of higher education that is relevant to students’ lives and world,” said UHV President Tim Hudson. “It is also our commitment to make higher education accessible for students, and Dr. Di Leo is innovatively fulfilling that commitment through the marriage of written text and film.”
After three years of work on the project, Di Leo completed the book in July 2005. The idea for an introductory philosophy book that combines film and literature with more standard introductory philosophy materials goes back almost 20 years, when Di Leo first started using film and literature in his courses as a graduate student at Indiana University.
“I noticed back then that students became much more attentive and conversational in philosophy courses where I used films than in ones where I did not,” said Di Leo. “This encouraged me to use more films in my courses.”
Di Leo credits his students at UHV for providing him with many ideas for the book. Of particular note was the popular summer course “Philosophy Goes to the Movies,” which he taught in the summer of 2004. “The students were so charged up in this course and learned so much so quickly about philosophy, that it convinced me that using film to introduce often complex and difficult philosophical concepts is almost a pedagogical necessity today,” said Di Leo.
Di Leo has taught at UHV since 2002. He holds a dual-doctorate in comparative literature and philosophy from Indiana University, Bloomington. His next book is on narrative innovation and the role of the present in contemporary American fiction. It will be published next year by the State University of New York Press.
To learn more about From Socrates to Cinema, visit the McGraw-Hill Web site here.