Darwin in the humanities curriculum. Charles Forceville.

Charles Forceville, AIM talk 25 November 2011.

“Darwin in the humanities curriculum”

Cognitivist approaches are highly compatible with a paradigm that is quickly gaining ground in the humanities: the evolutionary paradigm. Where the dominant view in the humanities is that art and communication are primarily determined by culture, evolutionary views emphasize that it is much more sensible to consider them first and foremost as rooted in basic human needs: shelter, food, water, safety, sex, respect, satisfaction … – that is, in nature. The human species is, ultimately, a very highly developed animal. Studying art and communication should therefore be
understood as a matter of “gene culture co-evolution” (Carroll et al. 2010: 213).

In this talk I will briefly elaborate on the “gene” part of this idea by highlighting insights from the following three books:

(1) Boyd, Brian (2009). On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. Cambridge,
Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
(2) Boyd, Brian, Joseph Carroll, and Jonathan Gottschall, eds (2010). Evolution, Literature & Film.
New York: Columbia University Press.
(3) Tomasello, Michael (2008). Origins of Human Communication. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press.

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