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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Literature as Algorithmic Variation: The Implications of Darwin’s ‘Universal Acid'

22nd November 2017, 17:30 to 18:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Scarlett Baron (University College London)

Join our next Inventions of the Text seminar, for a discussion across disciplines of literature and science.

Spear-headed by Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes, and Michel Foucault in the 1960s, the newly-coined notion of ‘intertextuality’ exploded onto the literary-critical scene, rapidly acquiring a currency which has endured despite the debates and contortions which have marked its fifty-year history. Why did the concept emerge? What distinguishes it from preceding and contending terms, such as those of ‘allusion’, ‘echo’, ‘influence’, and others? This paper shows the notion to be one of the products of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. By uncovering the links connecting intertextuality to Darwin’s ‘dangerous idea’ (to use Daniel Dennett’s resonant phrase), it explores the ramifications of long-standing analogies between organic and cultural evolution, and their implications for understandings of literary creativity.

About Dr Scarlett Baron

Scarlett Baron’s principal research interests are in modernist and postmodernist literature in English and French (usually considered from a comparative perspective), and in the history of critical theory.

Her first book, ‘Strandentwining Cable’: Joyce, Flaubert, and Intertextuality, analyzes Joyce’s intertextual engagement with Flaubert over the entire course of his writing career and argues that these two authors together played a key role in the emergence of intertextual theory.

Scarlett is currently working on a second book, A Genealogy of Intertextuality, which articulates an understanding of the notion founded on its prehistory in texts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book traces intertextual theory’s core ideas and emblematic images to their antecedents in the writings of Nietzsche, Darwin, and Freud.

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