Philosophy in Film and Literature

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The class Philosophy In Literature and Film is commonly called PILF, pronounced as in pilfer. One who is in the class is called a PILFer.

The Human Machine, another philosophy class more science-centered, often joined up with PILF to watch movies or for larger group discussions.

Actually a PILF - SEL discussion thing would have been interesting but our teacher was worried about how your teacher would react after the lemonade incident so we decided just to keep it cool.

PILF... what to say? How about... THE MOST AMAZING CLASS EVER!!! The instructors keep switching, so I can only speak as a student of Dr. (Scuba) Steve Benko and Meredith (the) Farmer. Here's the course description from 2005:


What is a human being? What does it mean to be human? Technological development has called into question the assumption that all humans are united by a common feature, attribute or capability. This has affected philosophy and religion, but also literature, art, anthropology, sociology, and history. Using movies, literature, and philosophical and religious writings, this course will investigate the move from humanism to posthumanism. We will come to an understanding of the various ways human nature and identity have been configured, recently reconfigured, and the consequences for ethics, culture and community. At the end of the course, students will be able to articulate a critical theory of technology that explains their own understanding of what it means to be human and takes an ethical stance towards the development and use of technology.

  • Content Area: Humanities
  • Offered: East Term II

This is the updated course description from 2012:

In subtle and overt ways, philosophical concepts ranging from nihilism to existentialism shape artistic works including novels, plays, comic books, pop music, and documentaries. Through critical literary and film analysis, explore the ways in which authors and filmmakers express various philosophical ideas through their media. Investigate the relationship between philosophy and art and develop an understanding of the way in which literature and film present a unique approach to philosophical quandaries regarding self, morality, epistemology, and perception.

Note: this class has been known to build blind belief in communism/marxism. In 2005, this sparked a feud between PILF and SEL (a class about money and capitalism). See Biddle.

PILF 2011

PILF came back to East afresh in 2011, but despite a very promising course description about intriguing critical analysis of popular film and literature, the teacher decided he would treat it as "an Intro to Philosophy course," thereby causing a LOT of drama throughout the term. Mr. Fischer was very abrasive and difficult to get along with. He was quite the pain, and no one gave him above a 3 on the evaluation (that I know of). In the course of the class, we read people like Kant, Hume, Locke, Putnam, etc., which are great authors but not literature. The TA Jesse, however, was very hot and said amusing things, so it was okay.

Mel Weyant, to the dismay of tipsters in the class, shared at Honey's that the PILF class used to be one of the best that TiP offered. She offered her condolences for the dead course.

Inside Jokes:

"Want to see something cool I can do with my body?"

PILF 2012

PILF returned yet again and this time was FANTASTIC! Jason was the teacher and Joey was the TA, creating J SQUARED. The PILF shirt consisted of a Spock Sheep on the front, with PILAF 2012 on the back, since PILF apparently sounds too much like MILF. There were many PILF cuddle puddles at breaks, and everyone becomes very excited whenever they see a fox-related item.


Kelsey Powers, Leland Ott, Amelia Allore, Rennie Svirnovskiy, Lawrence Charnow, Kersey Reynolds , Haley Ferguson, Elizabeth River, Andrew [last name], Mia Weathers, Jake Rothstein, Vanessa Robinson, Hannah Christian, Sarah Arney, Ruth Hewlett, Stephanie Cook, Bard Kennady, Sydney Clark, and Ryan McGregor.

Inside Jokes

  • I Kan't understand; I need Immanuel/ Kant is notoriously dry
  • Censorship, Haley...
  • Cramps and pig nuts upon you!
  • (Robot) Spock sheep
  • Joey is a southern belle.
  • What is man? NOT WOMAN.
  • Our minds go to the most passionate places
  • Locusts raped my daughter and killed my slaves
  • Wine and whores!
  • Crush love with your fists!
  • Elizabeth's deep repressed anger (and inability to read)
  • Replacing God with cookies
  • Embrace the absurd.
  • Joey's 5000 foxes (and 5000 fox trainers, etc.)

The Joey Song

(composed by Kelsey Powers)

  • Joey the TA is a southern belle/ He knows about love and plays frisbee well.
^The above is much more meaningful when actually sung, rather than just read.


Most likely to...

  • Jason(Instructor): ...sound like Nicolas Cage
  • Joey (TA): foxy
  • Elizabeth: ...carry deep-seated rage
  • Stephanie: ...hiccup
  • Lawrence: attacked by girls
  • Vanessa: ...wear chunky ties
  • Leland: ...become Joey's little brother
  • Hannah: ...fight Mia
  • Kelsey: ...sing the "Joey Song"
  • Andrew: ...have mesmerizing eyes
  • Hayley: ...need Immanuel
  • Amelia: a street fighter
  • Rennie: ...keep it classy
  • Kersey: an evil genius
  • Sydney: ...wear a tophat
  • Sarah: ...lose a rap battle
  • Ryan: a BRONY
  • Jake: ...giggle while reading
  • Bard: a narcissistic hipster
  • Ruth: barefoot
  • Mia: a BAWSS
  • NEEL: ...barge into our class

PILF 2013

The most wonderful PILF returned in 2013 with Deanna The Hamster Queen and David Justice as TA. It was totally great. There was lots of craziness and mind expansion. (Personally, I'd say PILF has once again become one of the best courses at East Term II.)

T-shirt: "There ain't no party like a PIL-F party because a PIL-F party doesn't end until at least two people are broken and the entire class is questioning their existence."

PILFerers (I'm also doing superlatives here because I feel like it):

  • Most likely to...
  • Deanna (Instructor): Be queen of the Romantic Hamsters
  • David (TA): Be on the Avengers ironically. (The reason is because his last name is Justice)
  • Aisha: tell stories under a piano
  • Chase: bleed philosophy
  • Sam: be a hamster princess
  • Helen: gesticulate delicately
  • Jessica: be dramatic within
  • Hannah: be the only sane one
  • Amy: silently contemplate homicide
  • Lily: smash the patriarchy with a spoon
  • Gabriella: be a cuddly supermodel
  • Gillian: BRICK
  • Nick: lord over us on the Zen throne
  • Kelli: use her shoe as a gavel
  • Vivienne: write a novel in an hour
  • Henry (Saussy): save a seat for The Hat
  • Jessica F: be the Doctor's companion
  • Veronica: break the 4th wall
  • Woody: break
  • Serena: be smote by hamsters
  • Samantha: be ignorant of tie tying

Main Class Jokes:

  • Toaster is always the answer
  • #onthemoon
  • A teaspoon of feminism makes Kant irrelevant
  • You can't un-see the whale
  • I can't Kant (the beginning of too many Kant puns to keep track of cough-cough Gillian)
  • Kant in the corner
  • Humans like it rough
  • Romantic Poets Party
  • Locke is a monster who hates old men
  • Kant is a monster who hates one-eyed-dogs
  • Count Kant
  • Little Johnny Keats
  • Uncle Walt
  • Percy Shelley is the prettiest girl at the ball
  • "Why is he (Nick) broken?"
  • Serena- "But you need something to repair your damaged souls!"
"Deanna- "It's beyond repair..."
  • Never forget Hammy
  • We broke Woody/Deanna
  • Deanna- "When hamsters take over the world, I will be their queen, and you (Serena) will be smote!"
  • Saussy's Coffee
  • "You (Vivienne) should aspire to be an old man someday"
  • The skylight's a bit of a drama queen
  • "I would call it Boatcat/Zapcat/Sparkcat"
  • Chase- "I named my cat Sparkles, can I tell you about philosophy?"
  • I burn hipsters
  • Chase needs a scribe to follow him around
  • When in doubt, dance it out
  • (collective groaning)
  • Philosophy is learning how to die
  • Aisha's piano house
  • Chase bleeds every time he does philosophy
  • Under the piano is my state of nature
  • Deanna- "You have five minutes, delete all the naked old men!"
  • Apparently Nick is a prostitute
  • Nick- "At least I let people touch them"
  • Nick- "That costs extra" (this became one of the most used jokes in class)
  • Use homicide to make it sound professional
  • BRICK!
  • Eyes of an orphan...oh wait he is an orphan
  • Frankenstein is a buttnut
  • Deanna- "You may all be my personal Big Daddy's"
  • Frankenstein is the skylight
  • Aisha is a groundhog
  • It's the mustache, it's terrifying
  • Aisha is Deanna's hamster
  • Just let the weirdness happen
  • And he was yes
  • YORK?
  • The mouse guy is my lover

PILF 2017

Hello my fellow strugglers! Waluigi here to give this class the section it deserves!!

The teacher for term 1 was Ben Clancy, the huffy hipster, and the TA was James O'Connor, the cool uncle.

Our class shirt has a globe on it, and says "PILF? That's Absurd." We were forced to use the crappy Duke tshirt maker.

Students: (superlatives to be added once termbooks are handed out)

  • Meira:
  • Braden:
  • Paola:
  • Charlotte:
  • Grandpa Ben:
  • Tim:
  • Ron:
  • Matthew:
  • Caroline:
  • Annie:
  • Ani:
  • Gabby:
  • Tara:
  • Josie:
  • Natalie:
  • Katie:
  • Robert:
  • Reed:

Inside Jokes:

  • Is wax real?
  • Cripple Frisbee
  • That's Absurd.
  • All great writers (and english speakers) eat babies
  • Ben's handwriting and art skills
  • Let's unpack that.
  • Nearly staging a mutiny over Spinoza
  • At the essence of my being, I am a clown
  • Mothman is Katie's beautiful datemate
  • We are all god
  • Fidget spinner James
  • I'm woke. I know the earth is flat
  • Interesting character
  • "Try to keep your asses awake as long as possible"
  • The dinosaur game
  • This is an unsafe learning environment
  • Everyone forgetting Natalie and Katie during breaks :,)
  • Matthew "taking notes"
  • "What's the difference between lit and get lit?" and "I thought lit meant legit"
  • Bad philosopher puns
  • "What the hell are objects?"
  • Teacher Ben being a huge hipster-in-denial
  • Cod is not infinite. Overfishing is a serious problem.

PILF 2018


  • Noah
  • Anna
  • Lee
  • Aidan
  • Kate
  • Amy
  • Madison
  • Tate
  • Angel
  • Jack
  • Sabrina
  • Maxton
  • Yamini
  • AC
  • Ava
  • Becky
  • Mollie
  • Rory

Teacher and T.A.:

  • Cody
  • Lesley


Noah - Most likely to bolth hate and murder Peter Singer

Anna - Most likely to disagree with the entire class

Lee - Most likely to advocate for cannibalism

Aidan - Most likely to ask you this

Kate - Most likely to end up in a frat

Amy - Most likely to create the perfect state of bed, with her Catholicism

Madison - #posi

Tate - Least likely to exist

Angel - Most likely to yell at Noah

Jack - Most comfortable in his masculinity

Sabrina - Most likely to poke a squid

Maxton - Boom, philosophically

Yamini - Spiders are better than people

AC - Most likely to be put out of business by a door stopper

Ava - Most likely not to have a cat

Becky - Least likely to care if Rory gets punched in the face

Mollie - The last dead poet

Rory - Most likely to get punched in the face in a thought experiment

Cody - Least likely to wear real pants


Fourth Years:

  • Angel
  • Becky
  • Lee
  • Maxton
  • Mollie
  • Noah
  • Rory
  • Yamini


  • The Talking Shoe
  • Aidan's Mom's Basement Burgers
  • Kazoos
  • Sticky Hands
  • Geoff the Spider (RIP)
  • Lee's Dragons
  • No Cat

Maxton's Short Story:

Quote List Final Standings:

  • 1. Noah Risley
  • 2. Lee
  • 3. Anna

PILF 2019 Term 2


  • Catherine Wiles
  • Nadia Hsu
  • Bella Story
  • Izzy Bequer
  • Anacat Sacher
  • Kendall Roy
  • Will Joseph
  • Zach Steele
  • Jack Ververis
  • James Adkins
  • Julian Gaffga
  • Mo Shah
  • Max Stith
  • Sophie Levenson
  • Ryan Post
  • Gahyeon Barnes
  • Caroline Coleman
  • Jordan Freeman
  • Andy Clark-Arhart
  • Ava Wellener

Teacher and TA:

  • Ryne Beddard
  • Lesley Walker


  • Catherine: Bombest shell
  • Nadia: Most important wheel on the bus
  • Bella: Most likely to be an UwU kind of girl
  • Izzy: Most likely to can read
  • Anacat: Most likely to be an airport novel author
  • Kendall: Most likely to death glare Charlie Chaplin
  • Will: Best dino handler
  • Zach: Most likely to think
  • Jack: Best Ted Cruz
  • James: Most likely to be a tik tok star
  • Julian: Most likely to be taken dinner
  • Mo: Most likely to mo bamba
  • Max: Most likely to have turtle power
  • Sophie: Most likely to campaign for donkey happiness
  • Ryan: Most likely to be president of the pta
  • Gahyeon: Most likely to square up to her cousin
  • Caroline: Most lovable communist
  • Jordan: Most likely to understand the teacher's obscure name drop
  • Andy: Most likely to charge at Ryan
  • Ava: Most likely to spark joy
  • Ryne: Most dismal swamp
  • Lesley: Most rights

Class Quotes:

The PTA: During term, Izzy said that Ryan had the vibe of a middle aged woman. Embracing this, Ryan created his own momsona. Soon enough, other members of PILF created their own momsonas and then the PTA was born. Members:

  • Blaine (zach)
  • Angie (Gahyeon)
  • Bethany (Anacat)
  • Coach (Jack)
  • Debbie (Andy)
  • Donna (Izzy)
  • Freddie (Liv, not in PILF but in the PTA)
  • Linda (Ryan)
  • Marguerite (Ava)
  • Mike (Max)
  • Molly (Bella)
  • Momsona yet to be decided (Nadia)