Lying in a past that seems increasinlgy remote, increasingly strange, we can forget how radical the shifts of thinking were during the 19th century, in much of Europe and Euro-America.
Ian Duncan traces how thinking about human and animal nature shifted over the century, as reflected in its major novels. Instead of thinking of their characters as beings who merely reveal their essential nature as they progress through their narratives, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot began depicting them as figures who develop in open ended ways, exploiting the Victorian novel's plastic, free-wheeling form to redefine the nature of Nature.
As the publisher of Human Forms: the Novel in the Age of Evolution describe's Duncan's conclusion, "the novel became a major experimental instrument for managing the new set of divisions—between nature and history, individual and species, human and biological life—that replaced the ancient schism between animal body and immortal soul."
Join us for a stimulating evening with Ian Duncan as he presents his dynamic investigation into this aspect of the geneology of our own historical consciousness.