Interference Patterns

Jon Adams

Literary Study, Scientific Knowledge, and Disciplinary Autonomy

268 pages
ISBN 1611482836

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.

"In this provocative and original book, Adams...explores the shifting tensions and interrelations between the sciences and humanities...Despite the complexity of this project, and despite the fact that the book is steeped in both literary and scientific theory, the prose remains superbly clear."

Morrison, R.D. CHOICE 2008: 813.

About the author:

After several years teaching at Durham, he now holds a research position at the London School of Economics, where he works on popular science writing as part of a Leverhulme/E.S.R.C. project called "How Well Do 'Facts' Travel?" This is his first publication.


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