Evolutionary approaches to literature and drama

Joseph Carroll

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Evolutionary approaches to literature and drama

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Reintroduced into philosophical parlance by Edward Wilson, the term ‘consilience’ denotes that nature forms a unified field of determinate causal relations and that all fields of knowledge are thus integrally connected — including literature, drama, and the other arts. The common designation for that species-typical configuration — both in literary tradition and in evolutionary psychology — is ‘human nature’. Like most traditional literary theorists, adaptationist literary scholars argue that literary works are produced and consumed to fulfill the needs of human nature, that they depict human nature, and that they are constrained, in their formal organization, by the species-typical dynamics of human social interaction. This article describes the historical context of adaptationism, surveys the work that has already been published in adaptationist literary studies, and then considers some of the directions further research might take.

Keywords: Edward Wilson; consilience; nature; knowledge; literature; drama; evolutionary psychology; human nature; adaptationism

Article.  8354 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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