Cookies Policy
X

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

The Recurrence of the Evolutionary Epic

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

In his 1978 On Human Nature, Edward Wilson defined the evolutionary epic as the scientific story of all life, a linear narrative beginning with the big bang and ending with the story of human history. Since that time several popular science writers have attempted to write that story of life producing such titles as The Universe Story (1992)and The Epic of Evolution (2006). Historians have also gotten into the act under the guise of “Big History,” which has resulted in a series of monographs and is taught at several universities and high schools throughout the world. While the evolutionary epic is often presented as a novel way of bringing the historical insights of modern science into a narrative form that transcends the humanities–natural science divide, the genre itself originates in the nineteenth century, just as new geological and cosmic timescales were being established and new sciences such as biology and anthropology were being formalized. Several German Naturphilosophen and Victorian naturalists imagined the history of life as one, as a “Cosmos,” and produced evolutionary epics that bare significant similarities with their more modern counterparts. By considering the various recurrences of the evolutionary epic, from its origins in early German Romanticism and Victorian naturalism to the degeneration narratives of the fin de siècle and on to the Wilsonian and Big History versions of the late twentieth century and beyond, this essay seeks to map out a shared intellectual genealogy while examining the genre’s conceptual commonalities. What is perhaps most compelling about the history of the genre is the striking persistence of non-Darwinian forms of evolution that are utilized to situate the emergence of humanity in these epic narratives of life.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Queenslandi.hesketh@uq.edu.au

10.1163/18722636-12341300
/content/journals/10.1163/18722636-12341300
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
10
5
Loading
Loading

Full text loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/18722636-12341300
Loading

Data & Media loading...

http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/18722636-12341300
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1163/18722636-12341300
2015-08-14
2017-11-18

Sign-in

Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
     
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation