CFP: Science, Literature, and the Western American Imagination (1/30/06; collection)

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CFP: Science, Literature, and the Western American Imagination
Critical collection, MLA style, 6,000-7,000 words

(January 30th 2006 deadline for proposals; full articles due August 30th

In 1883, Matthew Arnold delivered an address to an American audience
entitled "Literature and Science," in which he extolled the epistemological
virtues of literature over science. A man can amass lists of facts about
things, he explained, but sooner or later, he needs to relate them to the
foundational instincts of human nature for beauty and conduct. Only the
"humane letters" have the power to establish such relations, especially to
what Arnold calls the "new conceptions," i.e., science. Arnold provided an
example straight from a major cultural debate of the day: "when [men]
have duly taken in the proposition that their ancestor was `a hairy
quadruped furnished with a tail and pointy ears, probably arboreal in his
habits,' there will be found to arise an invincible desire to relate this
proposition to the sense in us for conduct, and to the sense in us for
beauty. But this the man of science will not do for us" (111). The scientist,
Arnold implies, supplies the data; it is the humanist who shapes public
perception and value about that data.

For a critical collection on the relationship between science/technology
and literary imagination in the American West, I seek essays that
investigate the role and influence of science on writers and texts from the
18th century to the present moment. New analysis of canonical texts AND
work that addresses the gendered, racialized, sexualized, and
class-based struggles with science in the American West are welcome.
Questions to consider include the following:

How does scientific advance enter the imagination and practice of
western American writers?
How does science shape the way western American writers represent
self, land, and culture?

How are Romanticism, scientific materialism, modernism and
postmodernism triangulated with science and the West?

How do innovations in physics and astronomy, evolution and biology, and
geological sciences figure in the western American literary imagination?

How do specific examples of scientific boosterism and/or scientific
skepticism within the literature of the American West promote or resist the
culture of progress, manifest destiny, regeneration through violence, or
other deeply entrenched western American myths?

Please send 1-2 page proposal and cv to:

Gioia Woods
Associate Professor, Humanities
Humanities, Arts & Religion
Box 6031
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, Arizona 86011

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Received on Fri Sep 16 2005 - 11:11:48 EDT