Evolution, Literature, And Film

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Featuring thirty-nine essential essays by pioneering scholars, scientists, and critics, Evolution, Literature, and Film opens with an introduction to the principles of evolution, with essays from Charles Darwin on the logic of natural selection, Richard Dawkins on the genetic revolution of modern evolutionary theory, Edward O. Wilson on the unity of knowledge, Steven Pinker on the transformation of psychology into an explanatory science, and David Sloan Wilson on the integration of evolutionary theory into cultural critique. Later sections include essays on the adaptive function of the arts, discussions of evolutionary literary theory and film theory, interpretive commentaries on specific works of literature and film, and analyses using empirical methods to explore literary problems. Texts under the microscope include folk- and fairy tales; Homer's Iliad; Shakespeare's plays; works by William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë, and Zora Neale Hurston; narratives in sci-fi, comics, and slash fiction; and films from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. Each essay explains the contribution of evolution to a study of the human mind, human behavior, culture, and art.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews


A first-rate contribution to the field... Recommended.


A first-rate contribution to the field... Recommended.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231150187
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 570
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian Boyd is University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Auckland. The world's leading scholar of Vladimir Nabokov, he is also the author of On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction.

Joseph Carroll is Curators' Professor of English at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. His book Evolution and Literary Theory is a founding text of literary Darwinism, and his collection of essays, Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature, gave the field the name by which it is most commonly known.

Jonathan Gottschall teaches English at Washington and Jefferson College. He is the author of The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer and Literature, Science, and a New Humanities, and the coeditor of The Literary Animal: Evolution and the Nature of Narrative.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction Brian Boyd, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan GottshcallPart I. Evolution and Human Nature Historical Overview1. Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind (2008) David M. BussThe Theory of Evolution2. Recapitulation and Conclusion, from On the Origin of Species (1859) Charles Darwin3. The Digital River (1995) Richard DawkinsHumankind4. General Summary and Conclusion, from The Descent of Man (1871) Charles Darwin5. Man: From Sociobiology to Sociology (1975) Edward O. Wilson6. The Universal People (1991) Donald E. Brown7. Sociobiology at Century's End (2000) Edward O. Wilson8. Evolution and Explanation (2005) Steven Pinker9. Evolutionary Social Constructivism (2005) David Sloan WilsonPart II. The Riddle of Art 10. Art and Adaptation (1997) Steven Pinker11. The Arts and Their Interpretation (1998) Edward O. Wilson12. Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began (2000) Ellen Dissanayake13. Arts of Seduction (2000) Geoffrey Miller14. Does Beauty Build Adapted Minds? Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Aesthetics, by Fiction John Tooby and Leda Cosmides15. The Uses of Fiction (2009) Denis DuttonPart III. Literature by Film 16. Getting It All Wrong: Bioculture Critiques Cultural Critique (2006) Brian Boyd17. Imagining Human Nature Joseph Carroll, by Jonathan Gottschall18. Two Worlds: The Ghost and the Machine (2008) Edward Slingerland 19. Consilient Literary Interpretation (2002) Marcus Nordlund 20. Humanism and Human Nature in the Renaissance (2005) Robin Headlam Wells21. The Reality of Illusion (1996) Joseph Anderson22. Darwin and the Directors: Film, by Emotion Murray Smith23. What Snakes, by Eagles David BordwellPart IV. Interpretations 24. Homeric Women: Re-imagining the Fitness Landscape (2008) Jonathan Gottschall25. New Science, by Old Myth: An Evolutionary Critique of the Oedipal Paradigm (2001) Michelle Scalise Sugiyama26. The Wheel of Fire and the Mating Game: Explaining the Origins of Tragedy and Comedy (2005) Daniel Nettle27. Jealousy in Othello (2007) Marcus Nordlund28. Wordsworth, by Psychoanalysis Nancy Easterlin29. Vindication and Vindictiveness: Oliver Twist (2007) William Flesch30. The Cuckoo's History: Human Nature in Wuthering Heights (2008) Joseph Carroll31. Human Nature, by Utopia Brett Cooke32. Paternal Confidence in Zora Neale Hurston's "The Gilded Six-Bits" Judith P. Saunders33. Character in Citizen Kane (1996) Joseph Anderson34. Convention, by Construction David Bordwell35. Art and Evolution: The Avant-Garde as Test Case: Spiegelman in The Narrative Corpse (2008) Brian BoydPart V. Literature as Laboratory 36. Literature, by Science Jonathan Gottschall37. Slash Fiction and Human Mating Psychology (2004) Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons38. Cultural Variation Is Part of Human Nature: Literary Universals, by Context-Sensitivity Michelle Scalise Sugiyama39. Paleolithic Politics in British Novels of the Longer Nineteenth Century Joseph Carroll, by Jonathan GottschallBibliographyContributorsIndex

Columbia University Press

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