Sunday, 13 June 2010

Art Connections

In The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science
Edited by Bruce Clarke, Manuela Rossini

"We live in a time when dialogue between the arts, sciences, and humanities is widely encouraged. Funding agencies offer incentives for scientists to work with artists; books are being written that seek to span C. P. Snow’s “gulf of mutual incomprehension” between scholarly cultures; interdisciplinary conferences are being convened that support cross-area dialogue and report the findings of collaborative projects. There is a sense that previously disconnected fields of study are actively converging.

All this is welcome given the fractured state of contemporary knowledge. Born just over 400 years ago, the poet John Milton is reputed to be the last person who would have been able to read every book then in print. Certainly the well-educated person of his time would have understood a wide range of subjects. The subsequent tendency towards micro-specialism in academia has brought breadth and depth at the price of fragmentation and isolation; no longer could any individual hope to absorb more than a tiny fraction of published information, and most disciplines work in ignorance of each other. Ulrich’s directory of periodicals, which lists most of the world’s scholarly journals, boasts over 300,000 titles, each representing the tip of an iceberg of accumulated knowledge. And a report in 2002 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities identified the “atomization of the curriculum” caused by artificially dividing knowledge into distinct fields as a significant barrier to the future of education..."

With forty-four newly commissioned articles from an international cast of leading scholars,The Routledge Companion to Literature and Science traces the network of connections among literature, science, technology, mathematics, and medicine. Divided into three main sections, this volume:

Links diverse literatures to scientific disciplines from Artificial Intelligence to Thermodynamics
Surveys current theoretical and disciplinary approaches from Animal Studies to Semiotics
Traces the history and culture of literature and science from Greece and Rome to Postmodernism
Ranging from classical origins and modern revolutions to current developments in cultural science studies and the posthumanities, this indispensible volume offers a comprehensive resource for undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers.

With authoritative, accessible, and succinct treatments of the sciences in their literary dimensions and cultural frameworks, here is the essential guide to this vibrant area of study.

Published July 2010