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Next Week in EvoS: Nancy Easterlin on Literature and the Darwinian Feminist Perspective

At 5:00 PM in S1-149 on Monday, April 12, the EvoS seminar series presents Nancy Easterlin of the University of New Orleans who will discuss Reproductive Choice and Autonomous Individuality in D. H. Lawrence’s The Fox: A Darwinian Feminist Perspective. From the abstract:

An evolutionary perspective on reproductive strategies combined with literary critical resources provides a means of interpreting the complex narrative perspective of this story. While evolutionary social science recognizes that men may seek to control women as reproductive resources, it also predicts that women will strive to elude or subvert such control, and it is just this conflict between strategies and choices as fitness concerns and self-determination or autonomy as a social matter that Darwinian feminism can foreground in cultural analyses.

In related news, an evolutionary perspective on literature and “theory of mind” was recently examined in a New York Times article by Patricia Cohen. From the article:

This layered process of figuring out what someone else is thinking — of mind reading — is both a common literary device and an essential survival skill. Why human beings are equipped with this capacity and what particular brain functions enable them to do it are questions that have occupied primarily cognitive psychologists.

Now English professors and graduate students are asking them too. They say they’re convinced science not only offers unexpected insights into individual texts, but that it may help to answer fundamental questions about literature’s very existence: Why do we read fiction? Why do we care so passionately about nonexistent characters? What underlying mental processes are activated when we read?

Here’s a PDF poster for the upcoming EvoS seminar:

Posted on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 in Events/News by EvoS.


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