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Literature and science writing in contemporary culture: The challenge to history in post-Enlightenment discourses of literature, science and literary theory.
thesisposted on 2015-11-19, 09:00 authored by Daniel. Cordle
This thesis examines the relationship between literature and science in contemporary culture. Section one explores the histories of literature, science and literary theory, from the Enlightenment to the present day, charting the ways in which parallel developments take place in each field. This version of history is justified by an analysis of the canon of texts and ideas to which 'postmodern' discourses make reference in explaining their current status. This history also involves the replacement of a traditional model of the culture, in which literature and science stand in direct opposition to one another as 'two cultures,' by a new understanding. This new model sees the culture as an amalgam of various discourses, and makes possible an analysis of the complex interactions between literature and science. Section two is comprised of three case studies, focusing on issues of knowledge, identity and time, which are used to explore this interaction of literature and science in contemporary culture, drawing out the ways in which it upsets binary distinctions that were key to Enlightenment thinking. The first of these is a comparison between notions of order and disorder in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and popular presentations of chaos theory; the second explores the transgression of the human/machine and natural/artificial boundaries in William Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy and Richard Dawkins' books about evolution; and the third explores a tum away from the concept of progress in Kurt Vonnegut's novels and Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life.
Date of award1996-01-01
Awarding institutionUniversity of Leicester