Transmutations of Body and Mind - Science, Gothic, and the Abhuman in the Late 19th Century
The central question of this thesis is: how do the rise of Darwinian evolution, fin de siècle fears of degeneration and the abhuman monster affect the representation of science and the scientist at the end of the nineteenth century, and how is this reflected in the selected corpus of fiction? I will argue how the main themes of scientific discovery, Darwinism, abjection, abhumanism, and degeneration have been incorporated into several fin de siècle gothic novels, and how these novels react to those themes in turn. Several other important themes are hypnotism and its influence on the mind, the place of humanity in nature and history, and the hegemony of Victorian civilization. I will argue that Gothic literature can play a central role in the debate surrounding scientific advancement and ethics, and that it continues to do so to this day.
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