Necessary Literature: On the Border Between Literature and Evolution

  • Michele Cometa University of Palermo
Keywords: Literature, Theory of literature, Evolutionism, Literary Darwinism, Biopoetics


The term “biopoetics” has begun to fascinate those who study literature. Yet again, it is against the backdrop of Michel Foucault, to whom is due unequivocal credit for his will to retrace, over and over, the muddy track that lies between the humanities and natural sciences.
The success of the term “biopoetics” extends far beyond the biopolitical paradigm inaugurated by Foucault, even though biopoetics embraces the same central challenge: the reassessment of bios and zoos which lie in the folds, no longer so hidden, of cultural thought.
Literary theorists thus appear to wish to re-examine the contradictions that the thesis of “two cultures” has set forth, at least since the period of Romanticism. The most decisive steps in this direction have been made however, not by the theorists of more insightful and certainly more plausible “cultural studies” (Kulturwissenschaft), but by those scholars who are moving, especially in the Anglo-Saxon context, towards the so-called “literary Darwinism”.
Literary criticism, above all that of European origin, however, withdraw in the face of these propositions, dusting off up the old anathema of reductionism (undoubtedly, a risk of the applying the evolutionary theory to culture), rather than genuinely engaging with the debate.


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Author Biography

Michele Cometa, University of Palermo
Michele Cometa teaches Comparative Literature at the University of Palermo. He has published several books on German and European culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. His recent works include: Descrizione e desiderio: I quadri viventi di E.T.A. Hoffmann (Meltemi, Rome, 2005); L'età di Goethe (Carocci, Roma, 2006, 3rd edition in 2008); co-authored with A Montandon, Vedere: Lo sguardo di E. T. A. Hoffmann (duepunti, Palermo, 2009); L'età classico-romantica (Laterza, Rome, 2009); andStudi culturali (Guida, Naples, 2010).


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How to Cite
Cometa, M. (2011). Necessary Literature: On the Border Between Literature and Evolution. Between, 1(1).
Cartographies of Comparative Studies