Victorian Literature Science
by
Alice Jenkins
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 June 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0061

Introduction

The study of literature and science does more than trace the “literature in science” and the “science in literature.” It problematizes the stability of the two fields as distinct types of knowledge and endeavor, and it explores the transformations that words and ideas undergo as they travel through the many different disciplines and genres that make up the totality of writing in given periods, locales, and networks. It is interdisciplinary not only in its subject matter but also in its methodology, drawing on material and techniques from a number of related fields, including history of science, cultural studies, philosophy of science, and history of the book. Victorian writing was a key focus of the scholarly works that are generally seen as among the foundational texts of literature and science studies, and since the publication of those works in the mid-1980s, the Victorian period has continued to attract a large proportion of the research in this field. One factor in this focus on Victorian writing has been the methodological success of the “one culture” model, which saw in 19th-century culture a unified intellectual context not yet fragmented by hard and fast disciplinary boundaries, and thus a particularly fertile ground for relationships between literature and science. Another factor in the field’s major focus on this period is its early and continuing interest in evolutionary science: Darwin and Darwinism have been extensively and immensely productively studied by literature and science scholars. In recent years, the influence of the “cultural turn” in the history of science and the rise of the history of the book have encouraged scholars working on 19th-century literature and science to give increasing attention to the period’s readers and reading practices, publishers and periodical presses, and interactions between writing and exhibitions, lectures, and other forms of entertainment and education. The methodologies developing to investigate these topics are updating and rethinking the “one culture” model, and are to some extent replacing it. One result is that the range of writers and genres that literature and science studies investigates is broadening and diversifying; another is that the boundaries of literature and science studies are becoming increasingly indistinct, as its characteristic interests and themes become more and more central to Victorian studies. Since the late 20th century “literature and science studies” have come to major prominence in the scholarship of Victorian culture. The extraordinary and lasting impact of some research published in the mid–1980s, together with the “cultural turn” taken by the history of science during roughly the same period, contributed to the production of an interdisciplinary field that not only traces the “literature in science” and “science in literature,” but also has often shown that traditional constructions of the two modes are inadequate. Within literature and science studies, the Victorian period in particular has been a key focus of scholarly attention, partly as a result of the enabling influence of the “one culture” model discussed here. Developed as an historical interpretation of the particular conditions of producing, disseminating, and consuming texts that held during much of the Victorian period, the one culture model’s methodological success and growing authority helped to make Victorian source material especially important for literature and science scholarship. Another reason for the field’s major focus on this period is its early, and continuing, interest in evolutionary science: Darwin and Darwinism have been extensively and immensely productively studied by scholars in this field.

General Overviews

Cosslett 1982, Christie and Shuttleworth 1989, Chapple 1986, and Paradis and Postlewait 1985 date from around the emergence of literature and science studies as a distinct field. Their overviews are to a greater or lesser extent intended to persuade skeptical readers that scientific ideas and texts are a cogent and productive topic for Victorian studies. They remain useful as introductory surveys, but more recent scholarship, including Rauch 2001, necessarily gives a better picture of the field as it has developed, especially by its tendency to read science and literature as part of a larger cultural field, rather than focusing on the back-and-forth transactions between the two. Rauch 2001 also exemplifies the increasing tendency of literature and science studies to cross the boundaries of traditional literary periods and include the first decades of the 19th century, and even the last years of the 18th century, in studies of “Victorian” literature. Levine 2008 presents a selection of criticism written by this key figure in literature and science studies since 1980, giving a picture of developing themes and methods in the field. Dawson 2006 provides an account of the recent state of the field, and comments on the relationship of “Literary Darwinism” to Victorian literature and science studies. With the great exception of George Eliot, whose work has of course been a key locus for investigation, Victorian women writers are comparatively under-explored in literature and science studies. Gates 1998 is one of comparatively few full-length works dedicated entirely to women’s textual production and has made a major contribution to the field.

  • Chapple, J. A. V. Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1986.

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    A brief introductory survey, structured mainly by scientific disciplines.

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    • Christie, John, and Sally Shuttleworth, eds. Nature Transfigured: Science and Literature, 1700–1900. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1989.

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      As well as a helpful introduction, this volume includes essays by Gillian Beer on Darwin and Victorian language theory, Sally Shuttleworth on Charlotte Brontë and phrenology, Peter Allen Dale on Hardy and evolution, and Greg Myers on science in the Victorian dialogue.

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      • Cosslett, Tess. The “Scientific Movement” in Victorian Literature. Brighton, UK: Harvester, 1982.

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        A basic account of scientific themes in In Memoriam, Middlemarch, Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes, and George Meredith’s “A Meditation under the Stars.” The introduction gives an overview of how ideas such as “truth” and “law” were dealt with in Victorian scientific and literary writings.

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        • Dawson, Gowan. “Literature and Science under the Microscope.” Journal of Victorian Culture 11 (2006): 301–315.

          DOI: 10.3366/jvc.2006.11.2.301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An excellent account of some major trends in and challenges to studies of Victorian literature and science.

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          • Gates, Barbara. Kindred Nature: Victorian and Edwardian Women Embrace the Living World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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            A study of women and the idea of nature both pre- and post-Darwin; discusses female literary and scientific writers, illustrators, and naturalists, including Beatrix Potter, Vernon Lee, and Marie Stopes. Numerous illustrations.

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            • Levine, George. Realism, Ethics, and Secularism: Essays on Victorian Literature and Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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              A collection of some of Levine’s essays, including new work as well as some articles published after 1980. Includes wide-ranging essays on positivism, science and religion, the methodology of literature and science studies, and a highly influential essay, “George Eliot’s Hypothesis of Reality.”

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              • Paradis, James, and Thomas Postlewait, eds. Victorian Science and Victorian Values: Literary Perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985.

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                A rather dated but still useful collection of essays by major scholars, addressing a very wide range of Victorian literary writers and scientific ideas.

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                • Rauch, Alan. Useful Knowledge: The Victorians, Morality, and the March of Intellect. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

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                  The introduction gives an extremely useful and very readable account of both science and literature as elements in the early Victorian obsession with information. Victorian-focused chapters center on Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor, Charles Kingsley’s Alton Locke, and George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss.

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                  Survey Essays

                  The emergence of several series of student-friendly literary companions has produced a very fine crop of essays by distinguished scholars in literature and science, and the history of science, and intended for readers who are reasonably familiar with the Victorian period but not necessarily with literature and science studies. The essays listed here give extremely useful concise and authoritative introductions to the major themes and concerns and, to some extent, the contemporary “canon” of Victorian writers most widely discussed in recent years. Beer 1990, Brown 2000, and Rauch 2002 generally emphasize literary writers responses to science; Dawson 2010, Lightman 2010, and to some extent, Kucich 2007, privilege literature, particularly in its traditional scope, less. Morus 2007 is chiefly concerned with scientific practice.

                  • Beer, Gillian. “Science and Literature.” In Companion to the History of Modern Science. Edited by R. C. Alby, G. N. Cantor, J. R. R. Christie, and M. J. S. Hodge, 783–798. London: Routledge, 1990.

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                    Beer surveys major themes in the early development of the literature and science field, discussing criticism of texts from the 18th to the 20th century.

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                    • Brown, Daniel. “Victorian Poetry and Science.” In The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry. Edited by Joseph Bristow, 137–158. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                      Traces a wide range of Victorian scientific concerns through readings of poems by Tennyson, Hardy, Meredith, Browning, and Hopkins.

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                      • Dawson, Gowan. “Science and Its Popularization.” In The Cambridge Companion to Literature, 1830–1914. Edited by Joanne Shattock, 165–183. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                        After a general survey of scientific triumphalism in Victorian culture, this essay moves on to an informative discussion of the types, outlets, and purposes of scientific popularization. Dawson argues that popularizations were “often complex and sophisticated productions of knowledge that frequently developed their own indigenous scientific forms,” and that because they often included strongly imaginative, metaphoric, or narrative elements, “popular science became an integral part of literary culture in the nineteenth century” (p. 172).

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                        • Kucich, John. “Scientific Ascendancy.” In A Companion to the Victorian Novel. Edited by Patrick Brantlinger and William Thesing, 119–136. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.

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                          A clear introduction to the ways in which Victorian writers of science and fiction shared interests in realism, positivism, and professionalism; wide-rangingly allusive in Victorian fiction, but discusses Eliot, Hardy, and Meredith in some detail.

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                          • Lightman, Bernard. “Science and Culture.” In The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture. Edited by Francis O’Gorman, 12–42. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                            Introduces some of the key themes in the relationship of scientific and general culture, including a section on scientific naturalism and realism in literature; with illustrations.

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                            • Morus, Iwan Rhys. “The Sciences.” In A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain: 1815–1900. Edited by Chris Williams, 457–470. Oxford: Wiley, 2007.

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                              A brief and lucid outline introduction to Victorian scientific culture; touches only fairly briefly on scientific literature, but is very helpful as a map for readers unfamiliar with recent historiography of Victorian science.

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                              • Rauch, Alan. “Poetry and Science.” In A Companion to Victorian Poetry. Edited by Richard Cronin, Alison Chapman, and Antony H. Harrison, 475–492. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.

                                DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631222071.2002.00030.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                The first half of this survey gives an account of various overarching themes in literary responses to Victorian science, including materialism, technology, and industrialization; the second half discusses scientific ideas in texts by Tennyson, Clough, Arnold, Hopkins, Mathilde Blind, and Constance Naden.

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                                Reference Works

                                Key online resources are listed here. Gillespie, et al. 2008, as well as Gossin 2002 and Clarke and Rossini 2011, are likely to be available mainly via large libraries. The webpages of Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical index, The Victorian Web, the Journal of Literature and Science, and the British Society for Literature and Science and the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts are accessible without subscription.

                                • British Society for Literature and Science.

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                                  The BSLS was founded in 2006 and holds an annual conference in the United Kingdom. The “Reviews” section of its website contains dozens of substantial reviews of recent monographs and essay collections on literature and science.

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                                  • Clarke, Bruce, and Manuela Rossini, eds. The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science. New York: Routledge, 2011.

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                                    Rather than using the dictionary format of Gossin 2002, this companion is made up of forty-four substantial essays generally by very highly regarded scholars on a very wide-ranging set of topics, organized by scientific disciplines, themes, periods, and geographical locations.

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                                    • Gillispie, Charles Coulston, Frederic L. Holmes, and Noretta Koertge, eds. Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2008.

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                                      Thousands of biographies of scientists and scientific writers, with full coverage of the 19th century. Available in eBook format via participating libraries and institutions, and in hard copy in the fifteen-volume edition published between 1970 and 1980.

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                                      • Gossin, Pamela, ed. Encyclopedia of Literature and Science. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.

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                                        Includes over 650 entries, organized alphabetically and mainly fairly brief, on literary and scientific writers, works, and ideas. Also includes an introductory essay by Lance Schachterle that gives a useful, though somewhat US-centric, outline history of literature and science studies.

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                                        • Journal of Literature and Science. 2006–.

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                                          This new online journal, edited by Martin Willis, includes original essays and reviews of articles rather than of books.

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                                          • Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical.

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                                            This extremely useful searchable resource gives synopses of articles on science in sixteen Victorian popular periodicals, including Punch, Blackwood’s, The Edinburgh Review, and The Boy’s Own Paper.

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                                            • Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts.

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                                              The SLSA was founded in the United States in 1985, as “a multidisciplinary organization founded to encourage the study of the relationships among literature, science, technology, and the arts”; in 2005 “Arts” was added to its name to recognize the society’s interest in nonliterary forms of expression. Its site includes a small number of searchable annual bibliographies for literature and science studies; as of 2010, the resources section was being updated. When it reopens, syllabi and other materials for courses on literature and science, mainly from the United States, will be available.

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                                              • The Victorian Web.

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                                                A miscellaneous collection of resources, including numerous pages on Victorian scientists, together with some excerpted material from critical articles and monographs, and some content written especially for the site. Caution is needed, since some resources are not of scholarly quality.

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                                                Anthologies

                                                Weber 2000 and Otis 2002 are the most widely used anthologies for teaching purposes; Otis 2002 has a particularly useful introduction, and Weber 2000 chooses to include longer extracts from a rather smaller range of texts. The success of Carey 1995 reflects the very high level of public interest in popular scientific writing that has been evident since the late 1980s and continues into the early 21st century.

                                                • Carey, John, ed. The Faber Book of Science. London: Faber & Faber, 1995.

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                                                  Compiled for a general readership, and including texts from the Renaissance to almost the present, this anthology offers extracts from some major Victorian scientists and writers on science: Darwin, Faraday, Clerk Maxwell, Ruskin, Lyell, Huxley, and Edmund Gosse.

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                                                  • Otis, Laura, ed. Literature and Science in the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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                                                    Mixes excerpts from scientific writers with scientific popularizations and literary texts. Clearly organized and gives explanatory notes. Includes a section on social science and an informative introduction.

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                                                    • Weber, A. S., ed. Nineteenth-Century Science: An Anthology. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2000.

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                                                      Includes texts by, among others, Darwin, Lyell, and Mary Somerville. Texts are presented in unabridged form and with helpful biographical introductions. Not aimed particularly at readers interested in literature.

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                                                      Bibliographies

                                                      The usual electronic bibliographies, including those published by the Modern Language Association and the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, provide comprehensive information on scholarship post-1980. Schatzberg, et al. 1987 is an extremely useful source on pre-1980 work. Isis, Configurations, and The Year’s Work in English Studies are useful for overviews of recent developments in the field.

                                                      • Configurations. 1993–.

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                                                        The journal of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts publishes occasional bibliographies of recent work; some of these may be found online via Project Muse.

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                                                        • Isis. 1913–.

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                                                          Each year, this journal on the history of science and science in relation to culture publishes an extremely extensive bibliography of recent work; the Nineteenth Century section includes a subsection on science, literature, and art. Sponsored by the History of Science Society.

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                                                          • Schatzberg, Walter, Ronald A. Waite, and Jonathan K. Johnson, eds. The Relations of Literature and Science: An Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship, 1880–1980. New York: Modern Language Association, 1987.

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                                                            Nearly 3,000 entries, organized by the century of the primary texts discussed. Includes a subject index.

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                                                            • The Year’s Work in English Studies. 1974–.

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                                                              Published annually by Oxford University Press; includes “The Nineteenth Century: The Victorian Period,” a set of discursive critical surveys of recent publications in Victorian studies. Works on science as part of Victorian culture are usually found in the section “Cultural Studies and Prose.”

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                                                              Scientific Method

                                                              Even Victorian readers with little interest in the development of particular sciences could hardly help being exposed to the triumphalism of contemporary science. Smith 1994 focuses on inductivism, the promise that inductive scientific method seemed to hold for the consolidation and growth of many or all other kinds of knowledge made questions of method an important topic in 19th-century cultural responses to science. Dale 1989 gives an excellent picture of positivism in England. Daston and Galison 2007 and Levine 2002 are key works in the recent history (and in Levine’s case, literary history) of scientific objectivity; White 2009 argues for a fresh acknowledgment of the importance of subjective experience in Victorian science. Cannon 1978 remains a classic of the “cultural turn” in the history of Victorian science and gives a lively and extremely helpful picture of science as part of 19th-century culture.

                                                              • Cannon, Susan Faye. Science in Culture: The Early Victorian Period. Kent, UK: Dawson, 1978.

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                                                                Though now contested, Cannon’s account of “Humboldtian science,” characterized by “accurate, measured study of widespread but interconnected real phenomena in order to find a definite law and a dynamical cause” (p. 105), and her picture of Victorian science as dominated by a liberal Anglican elite have been extremely influential in developing models of literary and scientific interactions. A very readable study.

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                                                                • Dale, Peter Allan. In Pursuit of a Scientific Culture: Science, Art, and Society in the Victorian Age. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.

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                                                                  An excellent, dense exploration of the workings of positivism—understood very widely as a form of scientific triumphalism—in Victorian culture.

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                                                                  • Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison. Objectivity. New York: Zone, 2007.

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                                                                    A major history of the development of the scientific ideal of objectivity from the 17th to early 21st century, with a particular emphasis on objectivity in vision and observation. Authoritative, detailed, and wide-ranging, with numerous illustrations.

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                                                                    • Levine, George. Dying to Know: Scientific Epistemology and Narrative in Victorian England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

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                                                                      An exploration of the developing Victorian ideal of scientific objectivity, particularly of the loss of self that it seemed to imply. A very wide-ranging, allusive, and readable book, including chapters on Hardy, Pater, Daniel Deronda, Our Mutual Friend, and scientific autobiography.

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                                                                      • Smith, Jonathan. Fact and Feeling: Baconian Science and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

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                                                                        A study of the effects on literature of the apparent triumph of inductive reasoning, originally developed by Francis Bacon but greatly altering in method and increasing in range and power in the early Victorian period. Gives a very helpful overview of the most discussed methodology of Victorian science. Includes chapters on Sherlock Holmes, Mill on the Floss, and the Beagle voyage.

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                                                                        • White, Paul, ed. “Focus: The Emotional Economy of Science.” Isis 100 (2009): 792–851.

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                                                                          White argues in the introductory essay in this cluster that the current emphasis in the history of science on the “history of objectivity” (p. 792) (e.g., Levine 2002, Daston and Galison 2007) needs to be balanced by the development of methods for acknowledging and exploring the roles played by emotion in science.

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                                                                          Scientific Readerships

                                                                          One of the major shifts in emphasis in the historiography of Victorian science since the mid-1980s has been the emergence of significant scholarly interest in the readers and audiences for scientific material. Audiences are now widely seen as participating to some extent in the production of scientific knowledge rather than passively consuming it; partly as a result, models of the “dissemination” of science, and the simple distinction between “elite” and “popular” science, have been strongly questioned and critiqued. Topham 1998 is an important and much cited instance of the current tendency of the history of science to embrace history of the book and reception studies. Secord 2000 is a landmark study of the reception of Victorian science, bringing together a wide-ranging and meticulously researched set of evidence about the extraordinarily diverse and unexpected reach of one scientific book through numerous social and cultural contexts. Fyfe and Lightman 2007 interestingly and persuasively brings together studies of audiences, spectators, and readerships. Topham 2000 is an excellent source of information for further reading on this topic.

                                                                          • Fyfe, Aileen, and Bernard Lightman, eds. Science in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century Sites and Experiences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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                                                                            This collection of twelve essays explores the ways in which Victorian and early-19th-century science competed with other forms of knowledge and entertainment for a share of the audience, via publishing, lectures, museums, and other forms of production. Gives an extremely helpful picture of the fecundity, inventiveness, and complexity of the context in which Victorians encountered scientific knowledge.

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                                                                            • Lightman, Bernard. Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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                                                                              A wide-ranging, thoroughly-researched, and enjoyable book on the very successful Victorian genre of scientific popularization, giving a detailed and extremely informative picture of the development of markets, genre conventions, professional careers, and interactions between popularizations and education, religious beliefs, and spectacular entertainment.

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                                                                              • Secord, James A. Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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                                                                                A very detailed but readable account of Victorian readers’ engagement with Robert Chambers’s anonymous 1844 bestseller, which presented theories about the origins of the universe and of the species. Secord’s book is a major and very influential study of the cultural reception of a work that spanned both scientific and literary genres and readerships. Numerous illustrations.

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                                                                                • Topham, J. “Beyond the ‘Common Context’: The Production and Reading of the Bridgewater Treatises.” Isis 89 (1998): 233–262.

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                                                                                  Topham’s essay has become a standard work on the Bridgewater Treatises. It uses an account of the reception history of the treatises to explore the diverse readerships constituting the audience for science in the early 19th century, and argues that as our knowledge of such readerships becomes more detailed, the category of “popular science” becomes increasingly unsustainable.

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                                                                                  • Topham, J. R. “Scientific Publishing and the Reading of Science in Nineteenth-Century Britain: A Historiographical Survey and Guide to Sources.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (2000): 559–612.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/S0039-3681(00)00030-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    A hugely useful, thoroughly researched, detailed critical description of scholarship in this area.

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                                                                                    Science and Religion

                                                                                    The shifting, fluctuating relationship between science and religion in Victorian Britain was, of course, a key element in the relationship between science and literature. Since the 1960s emphasis has shifted away from the “conflict thesis,” which views science and religion as inherently or at least characteristically inimical, to a recognition that in many instances, the two have been mutually supportive, overlapping, or cautiously respectful, even after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859. Brooke 1991 and Dixon, et al. 2010 are detailed explorations of the relationship of science and religion, both stressing the need for small-scale and flexible studies of their interactions in particular locales, moments, and contexts. Lightman 2009 argues that the emergence of Darwinism had less effect on Victorian religious faith than has sometimes been assumed. Turner 1993 and Knight and Eddy 2005 supply useful historical material, including case studies of clashes or stand-offs between Victorian scientific and religious interests. Natural theology, which argued that science, properly understood, is in harmony with religious faith because it brings us to a better knowledge of God’s works, was a very important part of Victorian accommodations of science and Christianity, and as during the early 21st century has attracted renewed scholarly attention: Eddy and Knight 2008 is a useful starting place for readers new to natural theology. The extremely important role played by Dissenting investigators, writers, and teachers in Victorian scientific life is reflected in a number of recent studies. Wood 2004 gives very useful information and an interpretation of Dissenting science over several centuries.

                                                                                    • Brooke, John Hedley. Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                      A modern classic in the history of science and religious belief, and an important contribution against the “conflict thesis.” The chapters “Interaction between Science and Religion: Some Preliminary Concerns,” “The Fortunes and Functions of Natural Theology,” and “Evolutionary Theory and Religious Belief” are likely to be particularly useful for Victorianists.

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                                                                                      • Dixon, Thomas, Geoffrey Cantor, and Stephen Pumfrey, eds. Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511676345Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        A collection of authoritative essays, in response to Brooke 1991. Particularly helpful for Victorian literature and science studies are Peter Harrison’s essay “Pt. I. Categories. ‘Science’ and ‘Religion’: Constructing the Boundaries” and Frank M. Turner’s “The Late Victorian Conflict of Science and Religion as an Event in Nineteenth-Century Intellectual and Cultural History.”

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                                                                                        • Eddy, Matthew D., and David Knight. “Introduction.” In Natural Theology; or, Evidence of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. By William Paley, ix–xxix. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                          A brief, clear introduction to natural theology, Paley’s book, and its reception and readership into the Victorian period.

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                                                                                          • Knight, David M., and Matthew D. Eddy. Science and Beliefs: From Natural Philosophy to Natural Science, 1700–1900. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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                                                                                            Essays on Victorian topics address Darwin, Faraday, the British Association debate over Darwinism in 1860, popular publishing, and the British reception of Comtean positivism.

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                                                                                            • Lightman, Bernard V. Evolutionary Naturalism in Victorian Britain: The “Darwinians” and Their Critics. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2009.

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                                                                                              A collection of twelve reprinted articles and essays by a leading historian of Victorian science, addressing the continuing role of religion in debates about evolutionary science after Darwin. Includes an essay on Robert Elsmere and another on John Tyndall’s Belfast Address.

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                                                                                              • Turner, Frank M. “The Victorian Conflict between Science and Religion: A Professional Dimension.” In Contesting Cultural Authority: Essays in Victorian Intellectual Life. Edited by Frank M. Turner, 171–200. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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                                                                                                Turner’s essay gives a great deal of helpful information and useful bibliography on Victorian scientific and religious establishments.

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                                                                                                • Wood, Paul, ed. Science and Dissent in England, 1688–1945. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004.

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                                                                                                  Paul Wood’s introduction and John Hedley Brooke’s essay provide a very helpful overview of the historiography of science and Protestant Dissent.

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                                                                                                  The “One Culture” Model

                                                                                                  This methodological model sees Victorian literary and scientific writing as part of a single spectrum rather than as two separate modes; following the work of Young 1985 (cited under Periodicals), it typically points to some Victorian periodicals’ method of presenting literary writing alongside scientific material without imposing generic boundaries; and following Beer 2009 (cited under Darwin and Evolution), to the frequent borrowing and adaptation of ideas and terms from scientific knowledge by literary writers, and vice versa. But as Levine 1987 notes, the phrase “one culture” “promises a unity we shall not find” (p. 3); Victorian literature and science can be seen as “parts of the same cultural field” (p. 4), but not as a single undifferentiated mode. A key element of the model was its emphasis on what Beer has termed the “two-way traffic” between literary and scientific writers in the Victorian period, each discipline borrowing and adapting freely from the other. “To get to the heart of [Victorian] culture,” argues Levine 1987, “one can travel the road of science, the road of literature, or—better—both” (p. 25). Though the “one culture” model underpinned many illuminating studies of Victorian writing, it has also been criticized as tending to elide important differences between scientific and literary genres, readerships, and methods: Small 1996 is frequently cited as an early and important source of such criticisms, and Dawson, et al. 2004 gives a useful, multidirectional critique of the use frequently made of Victorian periodicals to support “one culture” models. Though Snow 1998 is not a work on Victorian literature, it is listed here because the “one culture” model locates itself in opposition to Snow’s condemnation of a disastrous gulf between people with literary and with scientific knowledge. The reception of Snow’s argument over the following decades is complex, but an important factor in the development of interdisciplinary research, including literature and science studies; Ortolano 2009 gives a very useful account of the early years of the debate that Snow’s work provoked.

                                                                                                  • Dawson, Gowan, Richard Noakes, and Jonathan R. Topham. “Introduction.” In Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature. Edited by Geoffrey Cantor, Gowan Dawson, Graeme Gooday, Richard Noakes, Sally Shuttleworth, and Jonathan R. Topham, 1–36. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                    Includes a very useful survey and reconsideration of the “one culture” thesis, particularly as it concerns Victorian periodical culture.

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                                                                                                    • Levine, George. “Introduction.” In One Culture: Essays in Science and Literature. Edited by George Levine with Alan Rauch, 1–32. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                      Levine lays out some of the key questions for the methodology of science and literature studies and discusses the possibilities and limitations of the idea of “one culture” in Victorian Britain.

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                                                                                                      • Ortolano, Guy. The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Post-War Britain. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                        Gives a very full account of the Snow-Leavis controversy, locating it in the context of 1950s British educational policy and disciplinary change.

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                                                                                                        • Small, Helen. Love’s Madness: Medicine, the Novel, and Female Insanity, 1800–1865. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                          Small outlines and then critiques the unreflective use of a “one culture” model in histories of Victorian psychology: she proposes instead that fictions about insanity are different in kind and demand different treatment from non-fiction works on the subject. Small’s critique has often been extended by other critics to apply to the treatment of differing sources on Victorian science.

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                                                                                                          • Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                            This Canto edition reprints Snow’s controversial lecture (originally published in 1959) together with his 1963 reassessment of it, “The Two Cultures: A Second Look,” and a very informative and substantial introduction by Stefan Collini.

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                                                                                                            Literary Darwinism

                                                                                                            Not to be confused with critical studies of Darwinian texts (see Darwin and Evolution), “Literary Darwinism” or “Darwinian literary studies” are the terms commonly used for investigations of literature based on the belief that principles derived from Darwinian evolutionary biology operate in culture as well as in the natural world. Literary Darwinists usually argue that art, including literature, has adaptive functions: that is, that it improves cognitive skills, sexual attraction, psychological adjustment, or some other aspect of evolutionary success. They have often presented their work as a solution to a crisis of relevance in the humanities, and as an antidote to poststructuralist theory, which Literary Darwinism has generally regarded as unproductively dominating literary studies (e.g., Carroll 2004). Wilson 1998 is included here as a key work in setting the unificationist goal on which Literary Darwinist works often draw; Carroll 2004 and Boyd, et al. 2010 are useful collections of writings by many of the major Literary Darwinist critics and give a good picture of the methodologies and aspirations of this critical school.

                                                                                                            • Boyd, Brian, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan Gottschall, eds. Evolution, Literature, and Film: A Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                              A collection of thirty-nine essays, mainly reprints, giving a good overall picture of Literary Darwinist interests and techniques. Includes an essay by Joseph Carroll on Victorian fiction, and two on recent film adaptations of Victorian novels, but the most helpful section may be Part 2, subtitled “The Riddle of Art,” which includes six different accounts of the adaptive functions of art.

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                                                                                                              • Carroll, Joseph. Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature. London: Routledge, 2004.

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                                                                                                                A collection of sixteen essays, lectures, and reviews, most of them previously published elsewhere. Includes several essays on Victorian topics, including one comparing Literary Darwinist approaches with Matthew Arnold’s work on culture, one on Dickens, and another reading Villette and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The introduction gives a very helpful overview of the aims and arguments of Literary Darwinism.

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                                                                                                                • Wilson, Edward O. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. New York: Knopf, 1998.

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                                                                                                                  Wilson adapts the Victorian scientific writer William Whewell’s term “consilience” for his vision of a unification of the humanities and sciences. Discusses the changing fortunes of the ideal of the unity of knowledge from the Enlightenment on, describes ways in which some of the scientific disciplines are beginning to come together, and urges a unification of the arts and humanities with the sciences. Written in an accessible style for a general audience; attacked by numerous critics for reductivism.

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                                                                                                                  Periodicals

                                                                                                                  Young 1985 argues that Victorian periodical culture characteristically made little generic distinction between scientific and literary writing, contributing to the construction of a single cultural continuum. Following Young’s work, though by no means always agreeing with his conclusions, literature and science studies has drawn some of its most important methodological grounding from the scholarship of 19th-century periodicals. Henson, et al. 2004 and Cantor, et al. 2004 are wide-ranging collections of essays on aspects of scientific authorship and readership in periodicals; they substantially revise and critique Young’s argument and are based on work done as part of the Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical project (cited under Reference Works). Mussell 2007 is an example of the tendency of recent scholarship in this field to give attention to periodicals intended for general and specialist readerships, and to emphasize the importance of Victorian material culture in interpreting periodical content.

                                                                                                                  • Cantor, Geoffrey, Gowan Dawson, Graeme Gooday, Richard Noakes, Sally Shuttleworth, and Jonathan R. Topham, eds. Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                    Essays in this much cited volume discuss the presentation of scientific knowledge in numerous sectors of the Victorian periodical press, including canonical outlets such as Punch and the Cornhill Magazine as well as religious and cheap publications.

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                                                                                                                    • Henson, Louise, Geoffrey Cantor, Gowan Dawson, Richard Noakes, Sally Shuttleworth, and Jonathan R. Topham, eds. Culture and Science in the Nineteenth-Century Media. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2004.

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                                                                                                                      A collection of twenty-two essays focusing on readerships, the development of scientific and journalistic technologies and professions, the relation of science and supernaturalism, and emerging evolutionary and psychological sciences; includes essays by some of the major historians of Victorian science.

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                                                                                                                      • Mussell, James. Science, Time, and Space in the Late Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press: Movable Types. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                        A dense and ambitious study, which includes chapters on The Strand, the Illustrated London News, and specialist astronomical journals, as well as a very interesting discussion of the future of periodical research in the age of digitalization.

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                                                                                                                        • Young, Robert M. Darwin’s Metaphor: Nature’s Place in Victorian Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                                                          A collection of six substantial essays on evolutionary science in 19th-century Britain. Chapter 5, which focuses on periodicals, argues for the existence of “a rich interdisciplinary culture” in which scientific writing was published alongside literary texts, and in which major intellectual and literary figures such as George Eliot urgently followed scientific research. This shared culture, Young argues, came to an end in the 1870s and 1880s, after which professionalization of the disciplines led to their separation.

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                                                                                                                          Poetry

                                                                                                                          As the editors of a special issue of Victorian Poetry note, the scholarship of Victorian literature and science has been strongly focused on fiction and nonfiction prose (Dawson and Shuttleworth 2003). Of the major Victorian poets, it is probably Hopkins and Tennyson who have received the most attention from critics in this field; on Hopkins, Beer 1996 (cited under Energy Physics) and Brown 1997 (cited under Physics and Astronomy) should be mentioned alongside Zaniello 1988. Holmes 2009 broadens the scope considerably for studies of poetic responses to Darwinism. Though Blair 2006 and Rudy 2009 focus on different aspects of Victorian science, they share a central concern with poetic form and in particular with meter. This commonality and divergence indicate the volume of scholarship in this area that will be required in order to map in any detail the relationships of science and Victorian poetry.

                                                                                                                          • Blair, Kirstie. Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                            An exploration of the multiple connotations of the heart, not only as sentimental metaphor, but as a vehicle for thinking about rhythm and structure. As well as substantial discussions of Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Matthew Arnold, and the Spasmodics, Blair draws on a very wide range of Victorian poets, physiologists, and medical writers.

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                                                                                                                            • Dawson, Gowan, and Sally Shuttleworth, eds. Special Issue: Science and Victorian Poetry. Victorian Poetry 41 (2003).

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                                                                                                                              Among the eight articles in this special issue are one by Anna Henchman on astronomy and In Memoriam (pp. 29–45), one by Dawson on aesthetic poetry and materialism (pp. 113–129), and one by Marion Thain on science in Constance Naden’s poetry (pp. 151–169).

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                                                                                                                              • Holmes, John. Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                Thematically structured chapters give sensitive close readings of a wide range of 19th- and 20th-century poets.

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                                                                                                                                • Rudy, Jason R. Electric Meters: Victorian Physiological Poetics. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                  An original study of Victorian anxieties about the relationship between poetic rhythm, electricity, and the body.

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                                                                                                                                  • Zaniello, Tom. Hopkins in the Age of Darwin. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                    A groundbreaking early study that considers Hopkins in the context of not just Darwinian evolutionary science but also Victorian physics and chemistry.

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                                                                                                                                    Scientific Life-Writing

                                                                                                                                    As the introduction to Söderqvist 2007 explains, recent years have seen a resurgence of interest among academics in the contribution that biography has to make to the history of science, following a period in which life-writing was often viewed as tending to misrepresent the ways in which science is really performed, and to heroize individuals at the expense of the institutional, social, and cultural contexts in which they worked. Shortland and Yeo 1996 and Söderqvist 2007 are, in a sense, statements of the returning interest in life-writing; they illustrate contemporary emphases on networks and readerships as well as exceptional individuals. Cantor 2004, similarly, approaches biography through the lens of the mechanisms of publication associated with particular periodicals and their editorial strategies. Morrell and Thackray 1981 is an institutional biography, and an all but indispensable source of information on the British Association, one of the most influential and dynamic Victorian scientific bodies, and the individuals and groups involved in it. Meadows 2004 is an accessible starting place for readers interested in the development of the category of “scientist.” For those interested in biographies of particular scientists and scientific writers, the Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Gillispie, et al. 2008, cited under Reference Works) is a key source for concise accounts of the lives and major works of most British scientists of the Victorian period.

                                                                                                                                    • Cantor, Geoffrey. “Scientific Biography in the Periodical Press.” In Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature. Edited by Geoffrey Cantor, Gowan Dawson, Graeme Gooday, Richard Noakes, Sally Shuttleworth, and Jonathan R. Topham, 216–237. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                      A very informative survey of the types of scientific life-writing, including obituaries, published in periodicals.

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                                                                                                                                      • Meadows, Jack. The Victorian Scientist: The Growth of a Profession. London: British Library, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                        A popular and general survey of the development of professional scientific careers, drawing more on Victorian sources than on the recent history of science.

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                                                                                                                                        • Morrell, Jack, and Arnold Thackray. Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                          The British Association (BA) was one of the key institutions in the development of Victorian science and its relationship with the public: its annual meeting, held in a different city each year, brought together scientific practitioners and local people and was widely discussed in the national and regional press. This is a meticulously researched and very detailed study of both the public and behind-the-scenes work of the BA, emphasizing overlaps between these scientific leaders and the Church of England.

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                                                                                                                                          • Shortland, Michael, and Richard Yeo, eds. Telling Lives in Science: Essays on Scientific Biography. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511525292Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Ten essays by notable scholars on aspects of scientific biography, focusing (unlike Söderqvist 2007) on the late 18th and 19th centuries. Includes essays by Geoffrey Cantor on biographies of Michael Faraday (pp. 171–194) and Martha Vicinus on biographies of Florence Nightingale (pp. 195–214), and reflections by the Darwin scholar James Moore on the process of writing Darwin’s autobiography.

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                                                                                                                                            • Söderqvist, Thomas, ed. The History and Poetics of Scientific Biography. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                              A collection of fifteen essays exploring aspects of scientific biography from classical times to the early 21st century; an interesting example of historians of science investigating literary as well as historiographical questions. Söderqvist’s introduction and his essay, which appears last in the volume, give a helpful account of the changing valuation of biography in the history of science.

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                                                                                                                                              Darwin and Evolution

                                                                                                                                              Studies of Darwin’s influence on Victorian literature were among the most influential founding texts of literature and science studies, and though some of the methodologies in use have shifted significantly since the 1980s, scholarly research on evolutionary writing remains a high-profile and well-populated area of the field, having expanded into a great variety of different aspects of 19th- and 20th-century culture. Beer 2009 and Levine 1988 are almost universally regarded as among the key works in the development of literature and science studies; they continue to be widely discussed and cited, not only as foundation stones of the field, but also as statements of incisive and authoritative interdisciplinary research. Both authors have returned frequently to Darwin studies, significantly broadening the range of the subfield: Levine 2006 extends from the 19th into the 21st century, for example, and Beer 1996 addresses Darwin in the context of Victorian linguistics, anthropology, travel narratives, and other topics. Amigoni 2007 and Dawson 2007 are deeply-researched historical studies of a “literature” that includes scientific, literary, and other types of writing, and that is alert and sensitive to the differences as well as the similarities between them. Secord 2000 (cited under Scientific Readerships) expands and illuminates the methodologies of literature and science studies and the history of science, demonstrating the enormous potential of readership and reception studies in both fields. It makes a sophisticated and mature contribution to the current rethinking of elite and popular, public and private science, ideas that have been extremely important in the history of science but that have become increasingly unsatisfactory as new historical evidence about actual Victorian practices of reading and encountering science has emerged. Hodge and Radick 2003 is intended for a more general audience and gives very useful background and reference material.

                                                                                                                                              • Amigoni, David. Colonies, Cults, and Evolution: Literature, Science and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Writing. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                This ambitious book uses evolutionary debates to produce a set of interpretations of Victorian ideas about culture, moving more or less chronologically from Wordsworth and Coleridge through to Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son. A recent and very well-received new direction in arguments about the “one culture” model.

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                                                                                                                                                • Amigoni, David, and Jeff Wallace, eds. Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                  Though it ranges more widely in Victorian culture than just literary texts, this collection of seven essays includes pieces by Kate Flint on Origin of Species and Great Expectations; Jeff Wallace on language in the Origin; and David Amigoni on the Origin and Eliot, Max Müller, and Leslie Stephen.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Beer, Gillian. Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                    An important collection of fourteen major essays, most on Victorian topics. The first six are on aspects of Darwin, including the highly influential “Darwin and the Growth of Language Theory” (pp. 95–114) and “Forging the Missing Link: Interdisciplinary Stories” (pp. 115–145).

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                                                                                                                                                    • Beer, Gillian. Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                      Originally published in 1983 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), this enormously influential book, a foundational text of literature and science studies, is the classic “two-way traffic” argument: it investigates both literary allusion, structure, and memory in Darwin’s writing, and Darwinian ideas about sexual selection and the complex interrelationships of life forms in Victorian fiction, particularly Hardy’s novels, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. The third edition includes an essay by Beer exploring Darwin’s writing on consciousness in animals and humans.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Dawson, Gowan. Darwin, Literature, and Victorian Respectability. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                        A detailed and sophisticated study that explores Darwinism via Victorian anxieties about its possible immorality and atheism; reads Darwin, his supporters and antagonists in the context of late-19th-century literary decadence, including Pater and Swinburne.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Hodge, Jonathan, and Gregory Radick, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Darwin. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521771978Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          An extremely useful overview of Darwin studies, including essays by John Hedley Brooke, “Darwin and Victorian Christianity” (pp. 192–213), and by Robert J. Richards, “Darwin on Mind, Morals, and Emotions” (pp. 92–115).

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                                                                                                                                                          • Levine, George. Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in Victorian Fiction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                            A keystone of literature and science studies; discusses Darwinian themes (including origins, endings, organicism, and the relationship of humans with nature) as they interacted with literature from Jane Austen through Dickens and Trollope to Conrad.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Levine, George. Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                              Argues that far from disenchanting the natural world, Darwin’s writing helps us toward “a passionate, world-loving secularity” (p. xviii). An extremely wide-ranging book that mixes Victorian and contemporary cultural source material.

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                                                                                                                                                              Biology

                                                                                                                                                              Scholarship of biology and Victorian literature is heavily dominated by studies of evolutionary science; see Darwin and Evolution for key examples in this area. Richardson 2005 is a very helpful starting place for the study of biological tropes and themes in Victorian fiction. Otis 1999 is an important study offering a wide-ranging picture of Victorian cultural responses to biology. Richardson 2003 is a major work in the study of the interaction of biology, politics, and literature. Morton 1984 makes useful complementary reading with Beer 2009 (cited under Darwin and Evolution), which appeared immediately before it.

                                                                                                                                                              • Morton, Peter. The Vital Science: Biology and the Literary Imagination, 1860–1900. London: Allen and Unwin, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                This widely cited book gives a useful overview of ideas on biology, and particularly on evolution in the work of a number of late Victorian writers, including Thomas Hardy and H. G. Wells.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Otis, Laura. Membranes: Metaphors of Invasion in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Science, and Politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Otis traces the growing Victorian interest in membranes, both real and metaphorical, through biology, bacteriology, politics, and disciplinary organization, arguing that membranes came to stand for all kinds of borders and were thus involved in constructions of individual and social identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Richardson, Angelique. Love and Eugenics in the Late Nineteenth-Century: Rational Reproduction and the New Woman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                    An influential study of eugenics as “a biologistic discourse on class” (p. 3) that pervaded late-19th-century feminism, reformism, and fiction.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Richardson, Angelique. “‘The Difference between Human Beings’: Biology in the Victorian Novel.” In A Concise Companion to the Victorian Novel. Edited by Francis O’Gorman, 202–231. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                      A helpful introductory survey of the use made in fiction of some key Victorian ideas, drawing on biology, including gender, eugenics, and the survival of the fittest.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Natural History and Botany

                                                                                                                                                                      Activities including collecting, classifying, and studying specimens of plants and animals are well represented in Victorian literature: the Victorian Literature and Culture special topic on natural history (Gates 2007)illustrated the diversity of topics that can be categorized under this heading. Merrill 1989 and Allen 1994 are key sources in the historiography of natural history, and King 2003 has quickly become a major influence on recent interpretations of Victorian botanical knowledge and metaphors. As Shteir 1997 exemplifies, studies of the relationship of botany and natural history with Victorian literature often include more female writers than do works focusing on the “hard sciences.”

                                                                                                                                                                      • Allen, David Elliston. The Naturalist in Britain: A Social History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A readable account of both professional and amateur naturalists from the 17th to 20th century, which discusses natural history’s relationship with religion, its social formations, and, in outline, some of its interactions with literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Gates, Barbara T., ed. “Editors’ Topic: Victorian Natural History.” Victorian Literature and Culture 35.2 (2007): 539–694.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A collection of nine essays by authors including Ann B. Shteir, Jonathan Smith, and Adelene Buckland, on topics ranging from botany and horticulture to ornithology and taxidermy; together with an introduction by Barbara T. Gates.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • King, Amy M. Bloom: The Botanical Vernacular in the English Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                            An original study of the use made by 18th- and 19th-century novelists of botanical imagery to describe sexual relationships and identities. As well as two informative and stimulating introductory chapters on the reception of the Linnaean system and what King calls “the politics of botany,” the book includes chapters on George Eliot and Henry James.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Merrill, Lynn. The Romance of Victorian Natural History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                              An influential book that reads natural history not just alongside literature but as an important literary genre. Includes substantial discussions of works by Ruskin, Philip Gosse, and Charles Kingsley, but Merrill was a comparatively early exponent of giving respectful attention to the work of amateurs, popularizers, and enthusiasts as well as major canonical figures.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Shteir, Ann B. “Elegant Recreations? Configuring Science Writing for Women.” In Victorian Science in Context. Edited by Bernard Lightman, 236–255. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Shteir’s discussion of women as readers and producers of scientific writing, and of gender and narrative form in science, draws its examples from a very wide range of Victorian botanical texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Zoology

                                                                                                                                                                                Zoology is best represented by the critical strand of “animal studies” that is emerging partly within the field of literature and science, and with links to ecocriticism and to consciousness studies. Ritvo 1987 is an important early source in animal studies, and Mayer 2010 a useful introduction to the area, while the editors’ introduction in Morse and Danahay 2007 outlines some ways in which animal studies can connect the history of science with literary theoretical themes.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Mayer, Jed. “Ways of Reading Animals in Victorian Literature, Culture, and Science.” Literature Compass 7 (2010): 347–357.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2009.00697.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  A useful brief introduction to Victorian animal studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Morse, Deborah Denenholz, and Martin A. Danahay, eds. Victorian Animal Dreams: Representations of Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    A collection of fourteen essays, together with an introduction by the editors, and an afterword by Harriet Ritvo. Use of animal representations as ways of imagining constructions of human identity, including class, racial, and sexual categories, is a key theme across the collection.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Ritvo, Harriet. The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      A very interesting example of literary critical reading techniques applied to non-fiction prose from a wide variety of genres. Ritvo explores Victorian texts on animal breeding, animal protection, and exotic animals, interpreting them as contributions to contemporary social politics, particularly the establishment and reinforcement of class hierarchies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Geology

                                                                                                                                                                                      Since the 1980s, geology has come to prominence in accounts of Victorian constructions of the past, and of the relationship of science and religion. As O’Connor 2007 comprehensively demonstrates, the popularity, breadth, and diversity of Victorian geological writing gave this science multiple points of contact and overlap with imaginative literary writing. Gillispie 1951 is included because, although its central thesis is now powerfully disputed, it has been, and to some extent remains, widely cited as an authority. Rudwick 2008, which is the second volume of a project reaching back into 18th-century history, is the result of decades of research and likely to remain a standard history of 19th-century geology. Secord 1997 is an excellent starting place for reading Charles Lyell, whose work has attracted considerable attention in literature and science studies, partly because of its influence on Darwin.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Genesis and Geology: A Study in the Relations of Scientific Thought, Natural Theology, and Social Opinion in Great Britain, 1790–1850. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1951.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Stresses clashes and oppositions between early geologists and Christian traditionalists over topics including the age of the earth and the literal truth of some Old Testament narratives. Influential for decades, Gillispie’s account has come under increasing challenge from less conflictual histories.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • O’Connor, Ralph. The Earth on Show: Fossils and the Poetics of Popular Science, 1802–1856. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          A wide-ranging and copiously illustrated study of the enthusiastic adoption of geological facts, ideas, and metaphors by early Victorian writers in many genres. A significant example of the developing methodology of literature and science studies that mingles book history and reception studies with detailed and subtle textual readings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Rudwick, Martin J. S. Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            A history of geology from around 1820–1845, massive and extremely authoritative, and very readable.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Secord, James A. “Introduction.” In Principles of Geology. Edited by Charles Lyell and James A. Secord, ix–xliii. London: Penguin, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Secord’s introduction to this Penguin edition of Lyell’s Principles, originally published 1830–1833, gives a very helpful overview not only of Lyell’s work, which was crucial for Victorian geology and natural history, but also of the disciplinary development of geology and of the religious and social contexts in which his work was published and received by later 19th-century readers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Physics and Astronomy

                                                                                                                                                                                              The physical sciences have posed a problem for literature and science studies based on variants of the “one culture” model, since their early mathematization made them much less likely to be part of a shared culture accessible to general readers than sciences such as geology, botany, or evolutionary biology. Accordingly, there has been much less work on literature and the Victorian physical sciences. Perhaps the chief exception is energy physics. Another exception is astronomy, which generated a popularizing literature early in the 19th century, through which it has been accessible to literature and science scholarship, as indeed it was to Victorian nonmathematical readers. Beer 1996 is an example of this critic’s characteristically allusive argumentative method, and has been very widely cited in the literature. Brown 1997 and Gossin 2007 are well-received instances of the comparatively unusual single-author study of literature and physical science. Jenkins 2007 crosses the period boundary between Romantic and Victorian literature, including sections on Wordsworth and Coleridge as well as Faraday, Whewell, and Herschel. Gossin 2003 is a helpful basic introduction to studies of literature and the physical sciences. Herbert 2001 challenges histories of Victorian science that emphasize its commitment to objectivity and the search for stable, reliable truths, instead applying literary theoretical frameworks to the analysis of science writing and other genres.

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Beer, Gillian. “‘The Death of the Sun’: Victorian Solar Physics and Solar Theory.” In Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. Edited by Gillian Beer, 219–241. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                A wide-ranging account of the use made by Victorian literary and scientific writers of the idea that the sun will ultimately cool, causing the end of life on earth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brown, Daniel. Hopkins’s Idealism: Philosophy, Physics, Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A dense, detailed, and challenging study of Hopkins and the Victorian philosophy of science.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gossin, Pamela. “Literature and the Modern Physical Sciences.” In The Modern Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Edited by Mary Jo Nye, 91–109. Vol. 5 of The Cambridge History of Science. Edited by David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Divided into brief sections giving outline introductions to general topics in the relations of literature with Newtonianism, chemistry, physics, and astronomy, and the history of science.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gossin, Pamela. Thomas Hardy’s Novel Universe: Astronomy, Cosmology, and Gender in the Post-Darwinian World. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Broadens the usual evolutionary focus of studies of Hardy and science to include the evolution of the universe, discussing Hardy’s reading in astronomy against the background of a history of the relations of literature and astronomy over several centuries. Includes two very useful general chapters on the history and literary history of astronomy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Herbert, Christopher. Victorian Relativity: Radical Thought and Scientific Discovery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        A study of relativistic ideas in science before Einstein, tracing close links with political, religious, and social radicalism. Chapter 2, “Relativity and Authority,” addresses literature particularly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jenkins, Alice. Space and the “March of Mind”: Literature and the Physical Sciences in Britain, 1815–1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses literary and scientific responses to the problem of the nature of space: includes chapters on landscape metaphors, the theory of light, geometry, field theory, and the idea of Chaos.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Energy Physics

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It has become a critical commonplace in literature and science studies that the physical sciences have received considerably less scholarly attention than the evolutionary, life, or earth sciences; this imbalance is usually ascribed at least partly to the earlier mathematicization of physics and, to a slightly lesser extent, chemistry, and hence the earlier splitting of these sciences from general literary culture. Thermodynamics, the study of the transformations of energy, is something of an exception; it was a Victorian innovation and its relations with literature have over several decades been the subject of a number of influential and important studies. Smith 1998 is an excellent historical study of the development of thermodynamics; essays in Clarke and Henderson 2002 address the very broad cultural history of thermodynamics. Clarke 2001 and Gold 2010 are to date the major full-length studies of the topic in relation to literature. Beer 1996, Nixon 2002, and Myers 1985 explore thermodynamic concerns in particular literary genres or writers. Gold 2010 gives a thorough overview of the field and makes it accessible to readers unfamiliar with thermodynamics, as well as offering extremely fresh, stimulating readings of some major Victorian texts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Beer, Gillian. “Helmholtz, Tyndall, Gerard Manley Hopkins: Leaps of the Prepared Imagination.” In Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. Edited by Gillian Beer, 242–272. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            This influential essay contextualizes Hopkins’s writing about individuality via a comparison with the early issues of Nature and the work of John Tyndall and Hermann Helmholtz in popularizing a thermodynamic view of the natural world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Clarke, Bruce. Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Focuses especially on thermodynamics’ effects on political, economic, and social themes in late Victorian works by Bulwer Lytton and H. G. Wells among others, and on into 20th-century fiction by writers including D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Pynchon. Clarke proposes that theories of allegory offer a sophisticated and sensitive model for tracing “the comprehensive lines of connection among the figures and concepts that circulate in and out of science and culture” (p. 6).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Clarke, Bruce, and Linda Dalrymple Henderson, eds. From Energy to Information: Representation in Science and Technology, Art, and Literature. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most of the essays in this collection are on 20th-century texts and topics, but the editors’ introduction and M. Norton Wise’s essay, “Time Discovered and Time Gendered in Victorian Science and Culture,” give very good background on energy physics in their widest operations in Victorian culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Gold, Barri. ThermoPoetics: Energy in Victorian Literature and Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An insightful and accessible exploration of themes of energy and entropy in Victorian physics and literature, including chapter-length readings of In Memoriam, Bleak House, and A Tale of Two Cities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Myers, Greg. “Nineteenth-Century Popularizations of Thermodynamics and the Rhetoric of Social Prophecy.” Victorian Studies 29 (1985): 35–66.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A study of the two-way influence of Victorian sage writing and popularizations of the new energy physics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nixon, Jude V. “‘Death Blots Black Out’: Thermodynamics and the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins.” Victorian Poetry 40 (2002): 131–155.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Through readings that range widely across Hopkins’s poetry, Nixon argues that Hopkins engaged more richly and more intensely with thermodynamic themes than any other Victorian poet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Smith, Crosbie. A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A very helpful overview of the Victorian history of thermodynamics, including its reception and application outside the university and laboratory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Psychology and Neurology

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The study of hysteria, nervousness, insanity, and other topics in Victorian mental health and illness is a very large field and one that has attracted major contributions from literary historians and critics. Bourne Taylor 2010 is a very good starting place for readers new to this distinctive part of literature and science studies. Rylance 2000 gives an excellent overview of the history of Victorian psychology, written by a literary scholar. Bourne Taylor and Shuttleworth 1998 is the best and most accessible collection of primary sources in this area. Bourne Taylor 1988 is an early and a very widely cited study that demonstrated the potential of interdisciplinary study of Victorian fiction and psychology; Small 1996 played an important part in developing critical methodologies for this field. Shuttleworth 2004 (originally published in 1996) gave the field a powerful boost by showing that the direct influence of the new mental sciences could be traced far into canonical Victorian fiction. Shuttleworth 2010 takes the field in a new direction by focusing on child rather than adult psychology, while essays in Stiles 2007 illustrate the diversification and expanding interdisciplinarity of the field.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bourne Taylor, Jenny. In the Secret Theatre of Home: Wilkie Collins, Sensation Narrative, and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. London: Routledge, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A groundbreaking and accessible book that both helped to popularize the study of the sensation novel and expanded literature and science studies to include Victorian psychological sciences, with particular reference to insanity and gender. Includes chapters on The Woman in White, Armadale, The Moonstone, and No Name, as well as a survey of Victorian definitions and treatments of madness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bourne Taylor, Jenny. “Body and Mind.” In The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1830–1914. Edited by Joanne Shattock, 184–204. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A very helpful and wide-ranging introductory survey of Victorian scientific and philosophical approaches to understanding the mind and its relationship with the body. Bourne Taylor discusses numerous examples from Victorian literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bourne Taylor, Jenny, and Sally Shuttleworth, eds. Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830–1890. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An extremely useful collection of Victorian writings on mental sciences, selected and introduced by two major scholars of literature and psychology. The extracts are accompanied by informative introductions and organized thematically.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rylance, Rick. Victorian Psychology and British Culture, 1850–1880. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A very informative history of Victorian study of the mind, with a special focus on Alexander Bain, Herbert Spencer, and G. H. Lewes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Shuttleworth, Sally. Charlotte Brontë and Victorian Psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An influential study, originally published in 1996, arguing that Brontë’s distinctive representations of selfhood drew powerfully on her knowledge of phrenology and other contemporary ways of understanding the mind, particularly the female mind.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Shuttleworth, Sally. The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science, and Medicine, 1840–1900. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Explores Victorian ideas about the child’s mind as they emerged from the new sciences of evolutionary biology, psychiatry, and psychology. Includes readings of numerous late-19th-century fictions by major novelists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Small, Helen. Love’s Madness: Medicine, the Novel, and Female Insanity, 1800–1865. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A study of the figure of the woman made mad by love. Challenging both 1970s feminist accounts of Victorian female insanity and the “one culture” model of literature and science studies, Small insists on the need to trace the small-scale interactions of psychiatry and fiction, respecting differences rather than seeking to establish overlaps between the two.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Stiles, Anne, ed. Neurology and Literature, 1860–1920. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A collection of eight essays, mainly on British cultural responses (including dance and music as well as literature) to emerging neurology; a statement of the growing profile of the subfield of neurology and literature.

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