Department of English

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392-001 Special Topics in Literature: Literature and Science

392-001 Special Topics in Literature: Literature and Science

Instructor: Pascale Manning

Description:

Is the human restricted to abiding by the laws of nature? What if we transgressed against those laws – what then? What does an individual death signify in a world where species that have endured for epochs may go extinct? What might it be like to witness a new lifeform taking shape? Are the operations of your own minds hidden even from ourselves? Is it possible to overcome our instincts? These are among the questions asked by the literature written during the age that gave us the theories of deep geological time, of evolution, and of the unconscious mind. When read in the context of these theories, works by authors such as Mary Shelley, Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning, George Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, and John Fowles reveal the interplay of ideas between what might seem to be different fields of inquiry. In this course we will explore how the literary imagination can lend living artistic embodiment to scientific ideas, helping us to make sense of the explanations that science affords us about the operations of the earth, our bodies, and our minds.

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