Thesis Title: Science and Decadence: Evolutionary Biology in Works by Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Elizabeth Robins
Supervisor: Kirsten E Shepherd-Barr
My research examines the significance of evolutionary biology to works by three prominent American expatriate writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Henry James, Edith Wharton and Elizabeth Robins. Yet, rather than focus on genres by these authors that are best known to scholars, I turn to neglected aspects of these canonical authors' careers. For James and Wharton, this means their drama; for Robins, her novels. Alongside extensive archival research, doing so emphasises the extent to which ideas about heredity shaped literature in the period 1880-1920, informing a move away from realism, engagement with discourses like eugenics, and a questioning of essentialism with regards to identity categories of race and gender.
See my recent article: Abdalla, Daniel I. "'Heredity, heredity!': Recovering Henry James’s The Reprobate in its Scientific and Theatrical Contexts." Modern Drama, vol 64, no 1, 2021. click here
Research Interests: Literature and science, English and American literature, the fin-de-siècle, women's writing, queer theory, science fiction, modernism, literary and postcolonial theory