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Moral Authority, Men of Science, and the Victorian Novel

£19.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: January 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316600948

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About the Authors
  • Nineteenth-century men of science aligned scientific practice with moral excellence as part of an endeavor to secure cultural authority for their discipline. Anne DeWitt examines how novelists from Elizabeth Gaskell to H. G. Wells responded to this alignment. Revising the widespread assumption that Victorian science and literature were part of one culture, she argues that the professionalization of science prompted novelists to deny that science offered widely accessible moral benefits. Instead, they represented the narrow aspirations of the professional as morally detrimental while they asserted that moral concerns were the novel's own domain of professional expertise. This book draws on works of natural theology, popular lectures, and debates from the pages of periodicals to delineate changes in the status of science and to show how both familiar and neglected works of Victorian fiction sought to redefine the relationship between science and the novel.

    • Engages with current issues in literary studies alongside debates in the history of science
    • Presents fresh readings of canonical texts and rediscovers neglected novels
    • Proposes a new methodology for studying the relationship of literature and science
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a confident and provocative work that has an impressively large bibliography and ambitious scope.' Amy M. King, Victorian Periodical Review

    '… an interdisciplinary and ambitious study that delivers a collection of chapters covering such scientific topics as astronomy, medicine, scientific naturalism and vivisection. … Every chapter exhibits an array of fascinating primary evidence that demonstrates her own commitment to investigating the 'surface' as to the opposed hidden meaning of Victorian texts. … In doing so, the study presents a compelling, persuasive and confident study that offers sharp and intelligent readings of the nineteenth-century novel and its relationship to experimental science. … insightful and provocative. Moral Authority, Men of Science, and the Victorian Novel proposes an important assembly of questions and provides some robust and intriguing answers of its own. Ann Loveridge, British Society for Literature and Science Reviews (www.bsls.ac.uk)

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316600948
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.39kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. The religion of science from natural theology to scientific naturalism
    2. Moral uses, narrative effects: natural history in the novels of George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell
    3. 'The actual sky is a horror': Thomas Hardy and the problems of scientific thinking
    4. 'The moral influence of those cruelties': the vivisection debate, antivivisection fiction, and the status of Victorian science
    5. Science, aestheticism, and the literary career of H. G. Wells
    Epilogue.

  • Author

    Anne DeWitt, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Anne DeWitt is a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program, Princeton University, New Jersey.

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