Critics of literary Darwinism like to point out the weaknesses of its scientific scaffolding, but the real flaw in this research program is its neglect of literary history and stylistic evolution. A full-fledged scientific approach to literary criticism should incorporate the kind of work being done by Franco Moretti at the Stanford Literary Lab—a quantitative analysis of the history of literary form. While Moretti and the literary Darwinists are almost never mentioned together, I contend that their work is not only compatible but also necessarily so for a more consilient literary criticism. The Darwinian aesthetics promoted by Denis Dutton can help to unite these two approaches.
Criticism; Critics; English literature; Literature; Research; Science--Methodology
Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature
Copyright Johns Hopkins University Press. Used with permission.
Plotting Devices: Literary Darwinism in the Laboratory.
Philosophy and Literature, 38