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Interference Patterns: Literary Study, Scientific Knowledge, and Disciplinary Autonomy

Jon Adams|
Bucknell University Press (2007)

Across the academy, disciplines flock for scientific status, keen to demonstrate that their approach to their subject matter is 'scientific.' How might literary criticism achieve anything like this sort of methodological consonance? Looking at the history of twentieth-century attempts, from Northrop Frye's macrostructural systematizing and Roman Jakobson's microstructural analysis, through to the collapse of the structuralist project and the recent strategic embrace of evolutionary psychology and cognitive science, this book looks at what hopes remain for a 'science' of literary criticism, and draws on the work of such thinkers as Richard Dawkins, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, and Kurt Vonnegut, to investigate what are the consequences of adopting a scientific perspective toward literary study. With an increasing number of departments teaching 'literature and science' courses, the question of what literary study stands to gain (and what it might risk) from cleaving to the sciences is especially pressing.

Jon Adams is a research officer on the Leverhulme/ESRC funded project 'The Nature of Evidence: How Well Do 'Facts' Travel?|'

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