Using Darwin’s idea and other branches of science, we’re seeing researchers describing works of fiction in a new light.
Carroll and his colleagues then drew on anthropological research to argue why this behavior appeals. In our fraught hunter-gatherer days, when humans roamed about in small bands, people had to sacrifice selfish interests and work together, or they’d perish. In contrast, self-aggrandizing or dominant behavior threatened group survival. Victorian novels, in this view, merely dress up these ancient, evolved preferences in crinolines and top hats.
Interpretation of Hamlet through neuroscience of depression or how the wars in The Illiad and The Odyssey were fundamentally wars for marriages and evolutionary legacy. All these texts can be described using modern science, but scientists who are championing this form of research seem to finding hostility from the field of humanity:
Gottschall says the resistance to Darwinian lit crit among literary scholars reminds him of resistance among religious groups to evolution itself. “There’s the fear that if you were able to explain the arts and their power scientifically, you’d explain them away,” he says. “Humanities are the last bastion of magic.”
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