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dc.contributor.advisorBrown, Julia P.en_US
dc.contributor.authorChristensen, Andrew Garyen_US
dc.date.accessioned2018-10-25T18:53:06Z
dc.date.issued2018
dc.identifier.urihttps://hdl.handle.net/2144/31667
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation explores the subject of heredity and its novelistic treatment c. 1850-1900. Though hereditary phenomena had long been incorporated into literary works, heredity acquired an unprecedented significance with Darwin’s theory of evolution. It became a central fact of life, generating both fascination and fear, but its exact workings remained unknown until the turn of the century. This left novelists some experimental leeway in creating fictional universes and characters in accordance with the nascent naturalistic worldview and in struggling with its philosophical implications. While work on nineteenth-century literature and science has focused significantly on evolution, I demonstrate that heredity is a more immediate human concern and is more intuitive to the form of the novel. The works considered here by George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, and Thomas Hardy grapple with an increasingly deterministic view of biology but also with other forms of inheritance, for most of the conditions that constitute and determine our lives are inherited. Chapter one discusses how the metaphor of inheritance became a powerful tool for portraying the complexities of life in a post-theological age. This dissertation is grounded in the history of science, and, beyond the common language shared between science, philosophy, and literature, I examine the role of narrative in the study of heredity, particularly in medical case histories, which formed an early point of contact with the novel. Chapter two is on Eliot’s treatment of the inextricable workings of legal, cultural, and biological inheritance in The Mill on the Floss, showing how the mismatch between theory and reality regarding these matters demoralizes the novel’s protagonists and inhibits their development. Chapter three contextualizes The Picture of Dorian Gray in the history of art and science, reading Dorian’s portrait as a device suggestive of metaphysical inheritance and the disruption of personal development, and the ancestral portraits in Dorian’s gallery as indications of the biological heredity that drives his self-destruction. Chapter four looks at Hardy’s technique of genealogical narrative and overdetermination in Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the novel’s engagement with debates over the value of pedigree and the pessimistic view of determinism at the century’s end.en_US
dc.language.isoen_US
dc.rightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalen_US
dc.rights.urihttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
dc.subjectEnglish literatureen_US
dc.subjectGeorge Elioten_US
dc.subjectHeredityen_US
dc.subjectOscar Wildeen_US
dc.subjectThomas Hardyen_US
dc.subjectEnglish novelen_US
dc.subjectLiterature and scienceen_US
dc.title“Nemesis without her mask”: heredity and the English novel in the nineteenth centuryen_US
dc.typeThesis/Dissertationen_US
dc.date.updated2018-09-29T22:00:32Z
dc.description.embargo2020-09-29T00:00:00Z
etd.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen_US
etd.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
etd.degree.disciplineEnglishen_US
etd.degree.grantorBoston Universityen_US


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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International