Rens Bod, Jaap Maat, Thijs Weststeijn (eds.): The Making of the Humanities, Vol. 3: The Modern Humanities (2014)

13 December 2014, dusan

“This comprehensive history of the humanities focuses on the modern period (1850-2000). The contributors, including Floris Cohen, Lorraine Daston and Ingrid Rowland, survey the rise of the humanities in interaction with the natural and social sciences, offering new perspectives on the interaction between disciplines in Europe and Asia and new insights generated by digital humanities.”

Publisher Amsterdam University Press, 2014
Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 License
ISBN 9789089645166
724 pages

Conference
Publisher
OAPEN

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Volumes 1-2

N. Katherine Hayles: Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science (1990)

28 July 2014, dusan

“At the same time that the study of nonlinear dynamics came into its own in the sciences, the focus of literary studies shifted toward local, fragmentary modes of analysis in which texts were no longer regarded as deterministic or predictable. N. Katherine Hayles here investigates parallels between contemporary litera­ture and critical theory and the emerging interdisciplinary field known as the science of chaos. She finds in both scientific and literary discourse new interpre­tations of chaos, which is seen no longer as disorder but as a locus of maximum information and complexity. The new paradigm of chaos includes elements that, Hayles shows, were evident in literary theory and literature before they became prominent in the sciences. She asserts that such similarities between the natural and human sciences are the result not of direct influence but of roots in a common cultural matrix.

Hayles traces the evolution of the concept of chaos and evaluates the work of such theorists as Prigogine, Feigenbaum, and Mandelbrot, for whom chaos entails an unpredictably open universe in which knowledge is limited to local sites and scientific models can never exhaust the possibilities of the actual. But this view does not imply that scientists have given up the search for global ex­planations of natural phenomena, for chaos is conceived of as containing its own form of order. Hayles envisions chaos as a double-edged sword: it can be viewed either as a recognition that disorder plays a more important role in natural processes than had hitherto been recognized or as an extension of order into areas that had hitherto resisted formalization. She examines structures and themes of disorder in The Education of Henry Adams, Doris Lessing’s Golden Notebook, and works by Stanislaw Lem. Hayles concludes by showing how the writings of poststructuralist theorists incorporate central features of chaos theory-such as an interest in relating local sites to global structures; a conception of order and disorder as interpenetrating rather than opposed; an awareness that in complex systems small causes can lead to massive effects; and an understanding that complex systems can be both deterministic and unpredictable.

Chaos Bound contributes to and enliven current debates among chaos theorists, cultural critics and cultural historians, critical theorists, literary critics interested in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, researchers in nonlinear dynamics, and others concerned with the relation between science and culture.” (from the back cover)

Publisher Cornell University Press, 1990
ISBN 0801497019, 9780801497018
309 pages
via author

Review: Tom LeClair (SubStance, 1991)

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See also Hayles, The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century, 1984.

Barri J. Gold: ThermoPoetics: Energy in Victorian Literature and Science (2010)

22 July 2012, dusan

In ThermoPoetics, Barri Gold sets out to show us how analogous, intertwined, and mutually productive poetry and physics may be. Charting the simultaneous emergence of the laws of thermodynamics in literature and in physics that began in the 1830s, Gold finds that not only can science influence literature, but literature can influence science, especially in the early stages of intellectual development. Nineteenth-century physics was often conducted in words. And, Gold claims, a poet could be a genius in thermodynamics and a novelist could be a damn good engineer.

Gold’s lively readings of works by Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Herbert Spencer, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and others offer a decidedly literary introduction to such elements of thermodynamic thought as conservation and dissipation, the linguistic tension between force and energy, the quest for a grand unified theory, strategies for coping within an inexorably entropic universe, and the demonic potential of the thermodynamically savvy individual. Victorian literature embraced the language and ideas of energy physics to address the era’s concerns about religion, evolution, race, class, empire, gender, and sexuality. Gold argues that these concerns in turn shaped the hopes and fears expressed about the new physics. With ThermoPoetics Gold not only offers us a new lens through which to view Victorian literature, but also provides in-depth examples of the practical applications of such a lens. Thus Gold shows us that in In Memoriam, Tennyson expresses thermodynamic optimism with a vision of transformation after loss; in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens produces order in spite of the universal drive to entropy, and in Bleak House he treats the novel itself as series of engines; and Wilde’s Dorian Gray and Stoker’s Dracula reveal the creative potential of chaos.

Publisher MIT Press, 2010
ISBN 026201372X, 9780262013727
343 pages

publisher
google books

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