Science in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

William Brackett (essay date 1879)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Modern Science in its Relationship to Literature,” in Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 15, June, 1879, pp. 166-78.

[In the following essay, Brackett discusses the relationship between science and literature in the nineteenth century, claiming that new avenues in literature were limited and science offered the opportunity to achieve notoriety while exploring a new and vital topic.]

The innovations made by science upon other modes of thought and study within the last half century are without a parallel in the history of human progress. It has swept away many of our most cherished convictions, hoary with the dust of ages, and left others in their places entirely...

(The entire section is 6611 words.)

John Burroughs (essay date 1888)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Science and the Poets,” in Cosmopolitan, Vol. 5, No. 2, April, 1888, pp. 127-30.

[In the following essay, Burroughs looks at nineteenth-century literary figures, including Keats, Tennyson, Emerson, and Carlyle, to assess the extent to which these writers were influenced by science.]

It is interesting to note to what extent the leading literary men of our country and time have been influenced by science, or have availed themselves of its results. A great many of them not at all, it would seem. Among our own writers Bryant, Irving, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, show little or no trace of the influence of science. The later English poets, Arnold,...

(The entire section is 3046 words.)

Thomas E. Mayne (essay date 1894)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Science in Song,” in The Westminster Review, Vol. 141, No. 6, 1894, pp. 668-74.

[In the following essay, Mayne discusses how poetry and science are more similar than different in that they both seek truth. Likewise, Mayne claims that the best way to popularize scientific knowledge is to put it into verse.]

It was once fashionable to say that poetry and truth were composed of such antagonistic qualities that by no process of fusion in the crucible of genius could they be got to mix. Coleridge gave his opinion that science and poetry were for ever irreconcilable. Edgar Poe insisted on the same fallacy. Other and lesser poets and versifiers caught up the...

(The entire section is 2394 words.)

Susan Mizruchi (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Fiction and the Science of Society,” in The Columbia History of the American Novel, edited by Emory Elliott, Columbia University Press, 1991, pp. 189-215.

[In the following essay, Mizruchi examines the emergence of the science of sociology in the nineteenth century and discusses the ways in which the concerns of this new science corresponded to the concerns of contemporary novelists.]

In The Incorporation of America (1982), Alan Trachtenberg describes the significance of the White City as symbol, its ability to transform the diverse and conflicted America of 1893 into an image of national unity. White City was a study in managed pluralism: organized...

(The entire section is 10256 words.)

Allene Cooper (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Science and the Reception of Poetry in Postbellum American Journals,” in American Periodicals, Vol. 4, 1994, pp. 24-46.

[In the following essay, Cooper traces the influence of the scientific theories of evolution and determinism on nineteenth-century poetry, explaining that the period was one of extensive experimentation in the subject matter and form of verse.]

In 1870, the editor of Putnam's Magazine wrote an essay titled “Poetry Not Dead” (P 5 4/70 505).1 In it, he argued against claims that our society no longer had any use for poetry that strives to uplift and edify. Notwithstanding his defense, the sentimental poetry he...

(The entire section is 7854 words.)

Laura Dassow Walls (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Science and the Shaping of Nineteenth-Century American Nature Literature,” in Literature of Nature: An International Sourcebook, edited by Patrick D. Murphy, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998, pp. 18-25.

[In the following essay, Walls finds that the rise of nature literature is related to the hardening distinctions between science and literature, an issue that was of great significance to intellectuals in the nineteenth century.]

Nineteenth-century science both created and constrained the possibilities for nature literature, making their relationship an uneasy one throughout the century. This was the Age of Science, as intellectuals then and since have...

(The entire section is 4896 words.)

William Morgan (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Universal Aspirations: Social Theory and American Literary Culture,” in Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 45, No. 4, Winter, 1999, pp. 1012-18.

[In the following essay, Morgan reviews two 1998 texts dealing with the effects of modernization and globalization on late-nineteenth-century intellectuals, commenting on the resonating power of questions raised by social theorists at the turn of century.]

In Middlemarch (1871), George Eliot portrays nineteenth-century intellectuals as victims of the totalizing ambitions of their vocations. Causabon, a theologian, strives to codify the “Key to All Mythologies” and Lydgate, a doctor and medical researcher,...

(The entire section is 2045 words.)