Recent Studies in Literary Darwinism: 1990–2010

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Abstract:

This survey offers a brief summary and appraisal of recent developments in the broad-ranging field of Darwin-based literary criticism. Recent critical analyses based on poststructuralist theory are contrasted with nascent critical movements that depart radically from widely-accepted tenets of late-twentieth-century critics. The trend among literary scholars identifying themselves with “New Literary Darwinism” is toward consilience between traditional approaches to the humanities and empiricallybased assessments of works of the literary imagination, an endeavor that seeks to incorporate into literary studies latter-day scientific discoveries in fields such as paleoanthropology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, animal ethology, sociobiology, and psycholinguistics. The sometimes unfamiliar landscape traversed in the process of reviewing the critical works surveyed resembled an unpaved road, replete with unexpected dips and jolts, as well as an occasional detour. The terrain can be rocky, at times. (Some of the appraisals of poststructuralist literary theory by science-oriented critics may jostle some passengers.) But the route taken is by no means dull. It is my hope that the reader will not sustain too many bruises, while enjoying the ride.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7756/dsa.043.013.359-386

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • Founded in 1970, the centennial anniversary of Dickens's death, DSA has been published since 1980 by AMS Press in cooperation with the Ph.D. program in English of the City University of New York and in association with the Graduate Center, CUNY and Queens College, CUNY. Besides presenting articles exploring the wide range of Dickens''s interests and talents, DSA also includes essays on other mid- and late- nineteenth-century authors and on the history and aesthetics of the period's fiction. In addition, each volume contains a substantial review article examining a prior year's scholarship on Dickens, and DSA occasionally publishes surveys of work on other Victorian writers, as well as review essays considering specialized studies of subjects in Victorian fiction. The editors seek to offer essays of "the most diverse kinds," those employing innovative as well as traditional approaches.
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