337 Claudia Cohen Hall
S. Pearl Brilmyer, Assistant Professor of English
"The Frog in the Machine: Literary Character and the Generation of Life."
This talk brings into conversation work on literary character in both the Victorian and modernist periods in order to narrate a shift in the history of characterization away from a concern with the dialectics of "flat" versus "round" toward that of a new, scientifically informed binary--the mechanistic versus the lively. Drawing a series of unexpected parallels between the work of the Victorian novelist George Eliot and the experimental modernist Gertrude Stein, I trace the emergence of this new literary-historical paradigm, a paradigm in which 'character' inheres not in individuality or apparent consciousness but in the generation of an inexplicable liveliness.