: Gillian Beer
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The interactions between literature and science and between literature and psychoanalysis have been among the most thriving areas for interdisciplinary study in recent years. Work in these 'open fields' has taught us to recognize the interdependence of different cultures of knowledge and experience, revealing the multiple ways in which science, literature, and psychoanalysis have been mutually enabling and defining, as well as corrective and contestatory of each other. Inspired by GillianBeer's path-breaking work on literature and science, this volume presents fourteen new essays by leading American and British writers. They focus on the evolutionary sciences in the nineteeth-century; the early years of psychoanalysis, from Freud to Ella Freeman Sharpe; and the modern development of the physical sciences. Drawing on recent debates within the history of science, psychoanalytic literary criticism, intellectual history, and gender studies, the volume makes a major contribution to our understanding of the formation of knowledge. Among its recurrent themes are: curiosity and epistemology; 'growth', 'maturity', and 'coming of age' as structuring metaphors (several essays focus especially on childhood); taxonomy; sleep and dreaming and elusive knowledge; the physiology of truth; and the gender politics of scientific theory and practice. The essays also reflect Beer's extensive influence as a literary critic, with close readings of works by Charlotte Bronte, Alfred Lord Tennyson, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, Edith Ayrton Zangwill, Charlotte Haldane, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and Karin Boye.