Victorian Colloquium: Dickens’s Teratology: The Natural History of Bleak House

Ian Duncan talk image
Date: 
04/20/2017 - 4:30pm
Location: 
Hinds Library (Room B14), McCosh Hall
Speakers: 
Ian Duncan, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley

We're delighted that Professor Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley) will be coming on Thursday, April 20th at 4:30 to give a talk on "Dickens’s Teratology: The Natural History of Bleak House." His paper explores how the transformist biology of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Geoffroy St. Hilaire, popularized by Robert Chambers in Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, provides a philosophical framework for Dickens's aesthetic challenge to the ascendant norms of Victorian realism. Geoffroy's saltationist, teratogenic account of species formation -- according to which species are monster births, produced by environmentally induced mutations in fetal development -- informs not only the notorious effects of Dickensian character but the radical experiment of Bleak House, in which Dickens splits the key anthropomorphic technique of realist narrative, free indirect discourse.

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