Biology/English 223: Evolution of Stories
In conjunction with our presentation given on May 1, 2007
The Author of a Theory and the Reader of a Text: Intentionality in Science and Literature
Introduction to the Project
The idea of intentionality, in scientific theories and in fiction writing, has been an important and controversial one for our Evolution of Stories class. Our class has mainly examined science, through biological evolution, as a non-intentioned, non-teleological process of development, and we have mainly examined literature as a product of the author’s craft and as an indication of his unique self. My presentation, with Caitlin Evans and Jen Dodwell, aims to look at intentionality through different lenses than did our class. Caitlin and Jen will turn in their papers and do their parts of the presentation separately from me, but I would like to situate my project by briefly explaining how Caitlin and Jen approached intentionality. Caitlin reverses the paradigm through which our class has viewed science by showing how the scientist’s intention, and his analysis of his experiments and statistics, affects the scientific process, and she uses the novel, The Missing Moment by Robert Pollock to help prove her point. Jen examines the relationship between the reader and the text. What I examine, which follows this introduction, is the relationship between the author and the text, and how different conceptions of that relationship present differing and opposing opinions about how readers should engage with text. I will do this by comparing what we have examined in class, Zadie Smith’s “Fail Better,” to a new postmodern framework laid down by Roland Barthes in his article, “The Death of the Author” and by Michel Foucault, in “What is an author?” We aim to complicate and enrich the way our class has viewed the subject of intentionality in evolution and in literature.