Style

A journal focusing on literature and literary topics for the academic audience.

Articles from Vol. 42, No. 2-3, Summer-Fall

An Evolutionary Paradigm for Literary Study
1. The Current Institutional Position of Literary Darwinism Over the past thirteen years or so, evolutionary literary study has emerged as a distinct movement, and that movement is rapidly gaining in visibility and impact. More than a hundred articles,...
Apriorism for Empiricists
When Joseph Carroll's Evolution and Literary Theory appeared in 1995, I read the first hundred pages or so with great interest and took comfort from its critique of the then poststructuralist-dominated literary academy. Carroll's presentation stood...
A Response to Joseph Carroll
Joseph Carroll's essay, "An Evolutionary Paradigm for Literary Study," gives us a solid overview of evolutionary psychology and literary study. In my response I will address a few major points in hopes of spurring yet more written conversation....
Art and Religion: Co-Evolved Phenomena
Carroll continues to show his superb mastery of the field here, and I can add little to his summary of the accomplishments, struggles, and schisms that mark that field's progress. Where I might hang a footnote is to his response to that "crucial...
Art as Adaptation: A Challenge
Joseph Carroll knows literary Darwinism not only through breaking in the field but also from helping so many newcomers over the fence, myself included. I agree with almost everything he writes in the bulk of the article, but since we learn more...
Beyond Words: Can Literary Darwinism Address the Unsaid and Inexpressible in Literary Creation and Response?
Joseph Carroll is essentially the founder and the preeminent theorist of Darwinian adaptationist literary study, with an enviable mastery of the subjects relevant to his interests: evolutionary theory (he has written a splendid monograph-length...
Brief Introduction to Joseph Carroll and the Special Issue of Style: An Evolutionary Paradigm for Literary Study
In an article in the New York Times (Nov 6, 2005), a reporter named T. J. Max asked the famous founder of sociobiology and author of Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge, Edward O. Wilson, to "assess the state of the revolution he helped touch off....
Completing the Paradigm: In Pursuit of Evidence
Why do we need an evolutionary theory of literature'? Apart from its intrinsic interest and significance (of which more in a moment), does it make literature more accessible? Does it enhance our experience of reading (or hearing) it? Does it provide...
Complex Realities, Adequate Reductions: A Reply to Joseph Carroll
Let us suppose, because we have good reason to, that everything that exists and happens on this earth has natural causes. If true, this supposition rules out ontological discontinuities in the process of hominization and in the evolution of human...
Compliments and Complements
From the evidence offered in Carroll's target article, we can say that Darwinian Literary Studies (DLS) have come of age. Once Ellen Dissanayake (What is Art For?, Homo Aestheticus) demonstrated the presence of "making special," a feature salient...
Disciplinary Fitness
I am grateful to have Joseph Carroll's commanding summary of the state of the field of evolutionary literary study (which I will for the purposes of efficiency baptize EVOLIST), with its authoritative account of the fundamental premises, aims, and...
Do We Need Literary Darwinism?
In his essay, "The Sleep of Reason" the philosopher Thomas Nagel remarks: "[Postmodernism] may be on the way out, but I suspect that there will continue to be a market in the huge American academy for a quick fix of some kind. If it is not social...
Evoluntionary Theory and the Naturalist Fallacy
Joseph Carroll's target article "An Evolutionary Paradigm for Literary Studies" makes a bold argument for the importance of an evolutionary perspective in the humanities, and it provides a sweeping overview of the literary research based on evolutionary...
Evolution and Paradigms in the Study of Literature
Joseph Carroll is a leader in the movement to bring evolutionary analysis into the humanities and literary criticism in particular. Not only did he write the first major monograph in this area (Evolution and Literary Theory), but he has immersed...
Evolutionary Psychology and Literary Studies
In the cognitive sciences and evolutionary psychology there are now complex models of human nature on offer, and it is a frequently-discussed question whether these models can be made useful for the humanities too. (81) One of the central issues...
For Evolutionary Criticism, against Genetic Absolutism
Joseph Carroll's overview of evolutionary literary criticism and theory is lucid, wide-ranging, and sensible. He presents a strong case for the value of an evolutionary approach to literature. I entirely agree that evolutionary theory can make illuminating...
Four Ways to Skin a Cat: Evolution and Literary Study
Some disciplines are fortunate to find expositors who are as erudite as eloquent. Evolution had its Darwin, behaviourist psychology, had Skinner, transformational linguistics had Chomsky--and Darwinian literary studies has Joseph Carroll. For almost...
Good and Bad Reductionism: Acknowledging the Power of Culture
As someone who has written at length on the need for vertical integration or consilience between the natural sciences and the humanities, I am obviously in agreement with the majority of Carroll's argument. I particularly think it is important to...
How Might Literature Do Harm?
Literature enriches human experience, as Carroll and other evolutionary theorists have pointed out. Many positive aspects of literature, such as how it can be used to transmit social information and how it can help people organize knowledge about...
Human Nature's Human Nature
Joseph Carroll's overview of an evolutionary paradigm for literary study is so comprehensive and lucid that there isn't very much I would care to criticize. But I would like to expand its reaches. The whole notion of "human nature" has had a fairly...
Ideas of Order: Artists Describing the Arts
Discussing the adaptive functions of human art, Joseph Carroll highlights its role in organizing the capacity of the mind to envision circumstances beyond the immediate. Able to conceptualize future problems and pleasures, to anticipate a multiplicity...
Information Is the Stuff of Narrative
Implicit in all evolutionary hypotheses regarding the function of narrative is the assumption that stories transmit information. Despite this, Carroll argues that narrative is not "didactic" in function. The essence of his position is as follows:...
Literary Darwinism as Science and Myth
The program of Darwinian literary study (DLS) that Joseph Carroll advances in "An Evolutionary Paradigm for Literary Study" encompasses a number of projects whose relationships are unclear, whose ambitions are unrealizable, and whose interpretive...
Literature as Self-Engineering: An Evolutionary Hypothesis
"Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose" --Oscar Wilde Joseph Carroll points out in his target article that there is not yet a consensus about the role of literature and the other arts in human...
Misleading Alternatives
Joseph Carroll, the doyen of Literary Darwinism, has convincingly portrayed the present (mainly Anglo-American) state of the art in the application of evolutionary theory to the analysis of literature. We do not have any objections against his very...
Reflections on Literary Darwinism
Joseph Carroll has done an excellent job outlining some of the accomplishments of this fresh approach to literature. Unsurprisingly, I approve of the endeavor, being a PhD in evolutionary psychology who started out majoring in biology with a minor...
Rejoinder to the Responses
4. Conclusions Marxists used to speak of the inevitability of the historical process leading to the triumph of the proletariat--a secular version of the Christian eschatology. The obsolete status both of Christianity and of Marxism might well...
Response to Joseph Carroll
As a member of the interdisciplinary program mentioned by Carroll in closing (Binghamton University's Evolutionary Studies Program [EvoS]), I have no reservations with the claim that evolutionary theory as it pertains to human psychology and culture...
Response to Joseph Carroll
Joseph Carroll's writing has been enormously important to me. Everything I say here is meant with the deepest appreciation for his energy, kindness, intelligence, and sheer dogged persistence in advancing the cause of literary Darwinism. My remarks...
The Bottlenecks of Literary Darwinism
In his book, Literary Darwinism, Professor Carroll observes that "the professional advantages of poststructuralist doctrine should be obvious. It enables literature professors to adopt a prefabricated critical stance that depends in no way on the...
The Centrality of the Exceptional in Literary Study
I am confused about Joseph Carroll's "we." Citing his own earlier work, Carroll notes that he once admitted that "we do not yet have a full and adequate conception of human nature." This we may be no more than a variation of "one"--anyone. But ...
The Evolutionary Paradigm: The View from Film Studies
In his commentary on the emerging paradigm of evolutionary literary studies, Joseph Carroll paints a compelling picture of a vibrant new field of enquiry. He presents a brilliant synthesis of key debates and positions within evolutionary theory,...
The Evolving Study of Literature
Carroll offers a wide-ranging survey o["literary Darwinism." Along with his prior surveys, it will certainly serve as a starting point for research in what he hopes will become a burgeoning field. He is, however, rightly concerned that this new...
The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer
The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer. By Jonathan Gottschall. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2008. xii, and 223 pp. $34.99 paper. I. This double issue of Style seems an especially appropriate place to review Jonathan...
The Unkempt Art
Joseph Carroll, in his broad, hopeful panoramic snapshot, reveals a burgeoning field, albeit one at the fringes of the literary establishment. The Literary Darwinists' status as a "robust guerilla band" is not necessarily a bad thing; arguably one...
What Are Literary Scholars for? What Is Art For?
On May 11 2008 I published an article in the Ideas section of the Sunday Boston Globe called "Measure for Measure." The article was basically a precis of my book Literature, Science, and a New Humanities, and it sounded many of the same themes that...