Identifier

etd-01152004-152014

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This dissertation is a critical assessment of "biopoetics:" a new literary theory that attempts to import ideas from evolutionary science to the study of literature. Borrowing from the field of evolutionary psychology, the biopoeticists argue that some literary forms and themes are particularly valuable because they result from our innate and evolved cognitive structure; they also attempt to create a normative aesthetic from the idea that evolution is progressive. In its first half, this study examines the claims of evolutionary psychology and their application by the biopoeticists; in the second half, it examines the idea that evolution is progressive, and considers the implications this may have for literary theory. In its conclusion, this work argues that biopoetics, conceived from a dissatisfaction with other contemporary literary theories--and in particular with such theories-- politicization of literature--is more dubious in its assumptions and reasoning, and more programmatically political, than the approaches that it seeks to replace.

Date

2004

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Carl Freedman

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