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Chaos and Order

Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science

The scientific discovery that chaotic systems embody deep structures of order is one of such wide-ranging implications that it has attracted attention across a spectrum of disciplines, including the humanities. In this volume, fourteen theorists explore the significance for literary and cultural studies of the new paradigm of chaotics, forging connections between contemporary literature and the science of chaos. They examine how changing ideas of order and disorder enable new readings of scientific and literary texts, from Newton’s Principia to Ruskin’s autobiography, from Victorian serial fiction to Borges’s short stories.

N. Katherine Hayles traces shifts in meaning that chaos has undergone within the Western tradition, suggesting that the science of chaos articulates categories that cannot be assimilated into the traditional dichotomy of order and disorder. She and her contributors take the relation between order and disorder as a theme and develop its implications for understanding texts, metaphors, metafiction, audience response, and the process of interpretation itself. Their innovative and diverse work opens the interdisciplinary field of chaotics to literary inquiry.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science
N. Katherine Hayles
I Chaos More Than Metaphor
2 Literature, Complexity, Interdisciplinary
William Paulson
3 Fictions as Dissipative Structures: Prigogine’s Theory and Postmodernism’s Roadshow
David Porush
4 The Chaos of Metafiction
Peter Stoicheff
5 The Emplotment of Chaos: Instability and Narrative Order
Kenneth J. Knoespel
II Order: Revisioning Form
6 Representing Order: Natural Philosophy, Mathematics, and Theology in the Newtonian Revolution
Robert Markley
7 The Authorization of Form: Ruskin and the Science of Chaos
Sheila Emerson
8 Linear Stories and Circular Visions: The Decline of the Victorian Serial
Linda K. Hughes and Michael Lund
9 Science and the Mythopoetic Mind: The Case of H.D.
Adalaide Morris
III Chaos and Order: Probing the Limits
10 Representation and Bifurcation: Borges’s Garden of Chaos Dynamics
Thomas P. Weissert
11 Modeling the Chaosphere: Stanislaw Lem’s Alien Communications
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.
12 Negentropy, Noise, and Emancipatory Thought
Eric Charles White
13 Michael Serres: In Search of a Tropography
Maria L. Assad

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