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Title:  The End of Literature: Essays in Anthropological Aesthetics Author:  Richard van Oort Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover (8.5 x 5.75 in) 248 pp. USD 24.00 ISBN 978-1934542057 2009 The End of Literature: Essays in Anthropological Aesthetics seeks to answer the question: What knowledge does the humanist possess that can compete with the explanatory power of evolutionary theory? Drawing on Eric Gans’s groundbreaking idea of language as the deferral of violence, Richard van Oort situates this "originary hypothesis" in the context of recent studies in primatology, developmental psychology, evolutionary anthropology, and cognitive science. The point of this comparison is not to reduce the humanities to the sciences, but to delimit a minimal point of departure for humanistic inquiry. Having established this starting point, van Oort compares the premises of the originary hypothesis to the unavowed starting points of recent cultural and literary criticism. He shows that the theory is not incompatible with the best insights of either Clifford Geertz or Stephen Greenblatt. The hypothesis is further fleshed out in original readings of Shakespeare, tragedy, and romanticism. In an age dominated by scientific explanations of our physical and social reality, The End of Literature will be compelling reading for anyone serious about defending the intellectual foundations of the humanities. Contents: Introduction Acknowledgements Part I. The Science of Human Origin 1. Cognitive Science and the Problem of Representation 2. Imitation and Human Ontogeny: Michael Tomasello and the Scene of Joint Attention Part II. The End of Literature 3. The Critic as Ethnographer 4. The Culture of Criticism Part III. Two Originary Analyses 5. Shakespeare and the Idea of the Modern 6. A Race of Devils: Frankenstein, Romanticism, and the Tragedy of Human Origin Notes Bibliography Index Reviews: “This remarkable book brings together anthropology, cognitive science, and literary study in an impressively learned and original way. Richard van Oort writes with passion and clarity about difficult issues. He shows convincingly that extending René Girard’s and Eric Gans’s assumption of an ‘originary’ moment of mimetic socialization for mankind can have productive and innovative results when transferred into literature, literary study, and literary theory as distinctively human institutions.” — J. Hillis Miller, UCI Distinguished Research Professor Departments of Comparative Literature and English, University of California, Irvine “When aliens come to study human culture on our planet, they could do worse than begin with The End of Literature. In the meantime, these resolutely sane essays should hearten all those, from whatever academic habitat, who still trust in the possibility of a single, non-mystical conversation of science, religion and the humanities.” — Mark Vessey, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Literature / Christianity and Culture, University of British Columbia “Richard van Oort’s The End of Literature brings together six provocative studies by a pioneer of generative anthropology. These essays, written in a lucid and engaging style, display a scope and mastery that matches the ambitions of the theory. The first two shed a fascinating light on the interface between generative anthropology and cognitive science; the second two point up the superficiality of ‘anthropological’ criticism as it is usually carried out. The final pair of ‘originary analyses’ offer powerfully argued alternatives to new and old historical readings of two classic texts, Hamlet and Frankenstein. — Eric Gans, Department of French & Francophone Studies, UCLA “The essays in this volume offer an informative and provocative introduction to the literary and generative anthropology pioneered by Eric Gans and René Girard. Richard van Oort situates their work not only in current studies in this field (e.g., by Terrence Deacon and Mark Turner) but also more broadly within recent cultural and literary theory (Clifford Geertz, Wolfgang Iser, Gérard Genette, Jacques Derrida). Further, van Oort provides two illuminating interpretive essays (on Shakespeare and on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) to illustrate Anthropological Aesthetics.” — Alexander Gelley, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine   Author: Richard van Oort is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Victoria
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