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Joseph Carroll (scholar)

Joseph Carroll (born 1949) is a scholar in the field of literature and evolution. He is currently Curators’ Professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where he has taught since 1985.

In Evolution and Literary Theory, the first book in the field of evolutionary literary studies, Carroll used evolutionary biology to construct a theory of literature that would serve as an alternative to poststructuralist theories. He rejected two key poststructuralist ideas: textualism (the world made of words) and indeterminancy (the self-subverting character of "discourse"). In the essays collected in Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature and Literature, Carroll explored the emerging field of literary Darwinism; worked toward building a comprehensive model of human nature; critiqued poststructuralism, traditional humanism, ecocriticism, cognitive rhetoric, and narrow-school evolutionary psychology; and offered examples of practical Darwinist criticism. In a second volume of essays, Reading Human Nature, Carroll examined the adaptive function of literature and the other arts; offered Darwinist interpretations of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights, and Hamlet; gave examples of quantitative literary analysis; and reflected on the course of intellectual history from Darwin to the present. In Graphing Jane Austen, Carroll and colleagues applied empirical methods—an Internet survey of reader responses—to an evolutionary analysis of British nineteenth century fiction. Carroll produced an edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, co-edited volumes 1 and 2 of The Evolutionary Review, and co-edited Evolution, Literature, and Film: A Reader.

Major worksEdit

  • The Cultural Theory of Matthew Arnold (1982).
  • Wallace Stevens’ Supreme Fiction: A New Romanticism (1987).
  • Evolution and Literary Theory (1995).
  • Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection (2003) - Editor.
  • Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature (2004).
  • Evolution, Literature and Film: A Reader (2010) – co-edited with Brian Boyd and Jonathan Gottschall.
  • Reading Human Nature: Literary Darwinism in Theory and Practice (2011).
  • Graphing Jane Austen: The Evolutionary Basis of Literary Meaning (2012), co-authored with Jonathan Gottschall, John A. Johnson, and Daniel J. Kruger.

External linksEdit