Thesis ID: CBB387565727

"Finding Is the First Act": Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Discourse of Science (2020)


Brown, Woodrow D. (Author)
Miller, Cristanne (Advisor)

State University of New York at Buffalo
Miller, Cristanne
Publication date: 2020
Language: English

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 178

“Finding is the first Act”: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Discourse of Science examines the presence, role, and significance of the discourse of science in the work of Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Charles Chesnutt, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Silas Weir Mitchell, and Karl Pearson, among others. Beginning with the publication of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology in 1830, this dissertation argues that the paradigm shift in the status and prominence of scientific discourse had profound and variegated impacts on literary production that have so far escaped sustained attention. The discourse of science and the drive to “scientificize” extant disciplines, professions, and areas of study wrought changes in nineteenth-century American life that were actively interrogated by writers who recognized and questioned science’s claim to objective knowledge. By celebrating other identities, ways of knowing, and forms of being that were excluded and marginalized by the dominant discourse of science, these writers stage critical interventions in the relationship between the public and practitioners of science and call into question the narrative of the nineteenth century as a period of enormous progress, with each development or invention or breakthrough yet another step toward the manifestation of the fields of science and medicine as we know them today. Instead, this dissertation takes into account the unintended consequences, the failures, the misperceptions, and the scientifically reinforced prejudices and biases that are often omitted from accounts of scientific progress in order to examine the manner in which contemporary writers seized upon them as evidence of a failure inherent in the discourse of science.

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Authors & Contributors
Adams, Maeve E.
Baym, Nina
Browning, Logan Delano
Carpenter, John Harrison
Fulford, Tim
Horstman, Klasien
Acta Historica Leopoldina
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Journal of Literature and Science
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Brown University
University of Oregon
New York University
Baylor University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Rutgers University Press
Science and literature
Rhetoric in scientific discourse
Progress, ideas of
Discourse analysis
Metaphors; analogies
Darwin, Charles Robert
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Abbott, Jacob
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Fernández de Oviedo, Gonzalo
Goodrich, Samuel Griswold
Time Periods
19th century
16th century
20th century, early
15th century
17th century
18th century
Great Britain
United States
San Francisco (California)

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