This seminar will challenge the boundaries separating disciplines. Focusing on nineteenth and twentieth century British writers, we will explore the complex interplay between the sciences and humanities. We will examine the ways that changing conceptions of space and time, cause and effect, and human psychology and evolution are commented upon and mirrored in fiction. Inevitably, our investigation of science and scientific authority will raise diverse questions about the nature of objectivity, morality, gender, class, and marriage (to name a few). Works we will study are likely to include: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, selected Victorian ghost fiction, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, H. G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau and Time Machine, Virginia Woolf's The Waves, selections from James Joyce's Ulysses, and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. We will also consider a few short and lucid secondary readings on evolution, relativity, quantum theory, and chaos theory. No previous understanding of these sciences is needed or expected.
This course is a seminar and requires regular attendance, preparedness, and contribution. Two short papers; one longer paper. No exams.