“Literary Darwinism”

New literary movement created by scientists; dodgy conclusions ensue:

To take one more example, feminist scholars have long maintained that European fairytales wantonly inflict psychic violence upon the vulnerable minds of children, especially girls, by promoting stereotypical gender roles. They maintain that images of swashbuckling heroes and beautiful young maidens yearning for dashing princes are not in any sense “natural”, but instead reflect and perpetuate the arbitrary gender arrangements of patriarchal Western culture.

To test this assertion, I convened a team of content analysts to gather quantitative data on the depiction of folk-tale characters from all around the world. What we found was that the feminist critique is both right and wrong.

European tales do portray men as more active and more physically courageous, while females are much less likely to be the main character and have far more emphasis placed on their beauty. But it also became clear that these stereotypes are not merely constructed to reinforce male hegemony in Western societies.

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4 Responses to ““Literary Darwinism””

  1. Tom Says:

    Dodgy, perhaps, but the real question is this: are their conclusions any *more* dodgy than those drawn by orthodox critics?

    — tom

  2. Niall Says:

    I’m missing something. Doesn’t that fall into “lots of effort to state the blindingly obvious” rather than “dodgy”? Writers do not create their characters for ideological reasons, but their choices may be unconsciously shaped: film at 11.

  3. grahamsleight Says:

    It seems to me to fall into both categories; it looks to me like “lots of methodologically suspicious effort to state the blindingly obvious and yet also dodgy” – the more I think about it, the more it seems difficult to strip science of the measurers’ ideological baggage.

  4. Niall Says:

    Graham, don’t make me slap you.


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