Triangle Scholar

Darwin and Nietzsche: evolutionary thought within literary theory

PI(s): Tyler Curtain (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
Start Date: 15-Jan-2012
End Date: 15-May-2012
Keywords: cultural evolution, evolutionary theory, human evolution

The book manuscript examines Nietzsche’s reaction to evolution and On the Origin of Species, and then traces the history and function of evolutionary thinking from Darwin and Nietzsche into contemporary literary and critical theory. The project seeks to accomplish two goals. The first is to explain the absence of biologically informed scientific and evolutionary reasoning within contemporary literary theory. I hypothesize that this is due, in part, to Nietzsche’s hostile reaction to the Origin, as well as the continued influence of German Romanticism on contemporary models of cultural form, development, and change. Secondly, I seek to articulate where literary theoretical work of the past several decades might be brought into dialogue—and synthesis—with evolutionary understandings of the emergence of humans, language and human culture.