On the Debate on Evolutionary Psychology and Literature

If you are considering attending our workshop, or just interested in the areas we are addressing, then you might be interested too in reading two really brilliant and important articles on the relationships between Evolutionary Psychology and Literature, by Professor Jonathan Kramnick from Rutgers University in the USA.

I have been using Professor Kramnick’s work myself in a piece I am working on at present with colleagues on how people think about childhood and children’s literature and evolutionary psychology. Whether you agree or not with Professor Kramnick’s arguments, his pieces explain wonderfully what is at stake in the whole discussion and demonstrate how this debate gets some people very hot under the collar indeed!

In his articles (the second piece is a response to the critics of his first piece), Professor Kramnick explains how evolutionary psychology has recently (in the past ten or so years) started to engage increasingly with literature and art, trying to explain why and how literature and art are evolutionary adaptations. He then explores very clearly and carefully both what kinds of ideas of evolution are used in these discussions, as well as what ideas of literature and what the implications are on both sides.

Both articles can be accessed on the internet:

Jonathan Kramnick, ‘Against Literary Darwinism’, Critical Inquiry, Winter 2011.

Jonathan Kramnick, ‘Literary Studies and Science: A Response to my Critics’, Critical Inquiry, Winter 2012.

Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Professor of Critical Theory