Graphing Jane Austen
The Evolutionary Basis of Literary Meaning
|Publication Date||April 2012|
|Formats||Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) Hardcover|
|Series||Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance|
Building on findings in the evolutionary human sciences, we constructed a model of human nature and used it to illuminate the evolved psychology that shapes the organization of characters in nineteenth-century British novels (Austen to Forster). Hundreds of readers gave numerical ratings to the attributes of hundreds of characters and also rated their own emotional responses to the characters. We draw conclusions about the determinacy of literary meaning, interactions between gender and the ethos of community, and the adaptive function of morally polarized characterization. The broad patterns in the novels provide a framework for two case studies: the novels of Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.