Sunday, February 8, 2009

From Evolution Comes Literature

Can we prove what we read and write is rooted in biology?

Literature depends on literacy, a very recent acquisition in human evolutionary history--so recent that it cannot plausibly be considered an adaptation. But people in all non-literate cultures use language, tell stories and play with words in creative and evocative ways. Written language is just a cultural technology that extends those universal human aptitudes.

Literature and its oral antecedents are thus part of the basic profile of "human nature." Over the past 15 years or so, literary scholars in a small but now rapidly growing group have argued that producing an adequate theory of literature requires an evolutionary conception of human nature. By assimilating evolutionary social science, these "literary Darwinists" aim to form a new paradigm for the study of literature. >>MORE

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