" educators, policymakers and other observers bemoan the Balkanization of knowledge, the scientific illiteracy of the general public and the chronic academic turf wars that are all too easily lampooned.
Yet a few scholars of thick dermis and pep-rally vigor believe that the cultural chasm can be bridged and the sciences and the humanities united into a powerful new discipline that would apply the strengths of both mindsets, the quantitative and qualitative, to a wide array of problems."
Surely the New Humanities Initiative at Binghamton University in New York "conceived by David Sloan Wilson, a professor of biology, and Leslie Heywood, a professor of English ... to build on some of the themes explored in Dr. Wilson’s evolutionary studies program," can find space for displaced palaeoconservative english majors --if Wilson is sincere in titling his new book “Evolution for Everybody.”
Angier writes that in Wilson’s view,
evolutionary biology is a discipline that, to be done right, demands a crossover approach, the capacity to think in narrative and abstract terms simultaneously, so why not use it as a template for emulsifying the two cultures generally? "If biotech savvy Southern agararians can cotton to genetically reinforced corn and soybeans on them old weevil fields down home , the damn Yankees of Binghamton have a bounden duty to set aside some acreage for the new generation of Post-PoMo Generator literati.
"One goal of the initiative " writes Angier "is to demystify science by applying its traditional routines and parlance in nontraditional settings — graphing Jane Austen, as the title of an upcoming book felicitously puts it. “If you do statistics in the context of something you’re interested in and are good at, then it becomes an incremental as opposed to a saltational jump,” Dr. Wilson said. “You see that the mechanics are not so hard after all, and once you understand why you’re doing the statistics in the first place, it ends up being simple"
Angier tells us that one of this new plantation's overseer's Rutger's Prof. Levine , the author of Darwin Loves You.
” has criticized many recent attempts at so-called Literary Darwinism, the application of evolutionary psychology ideas to the analysis of great novels and plays. What it usually amounts to is reimagining Emma Bovary or Emma Woodhouse as a young, fecund female hunter-gatherer circa 200,000 B.C.“When you maximize the importance of biological forces and minimize culture, you get something that doesn’t tell you a whole lot about the particularities of literature,” Dr. Levine said. “What you end up with, as far as I’m concerned, is banality.
Professor Heywood's work, notes Angier , focuses on
" the complex symbolism of the wolf, a topic inspired by a pet of hers that was seven-eighths wolf. “He was completely different from a dog,” she said...." Seeking a more full-bodied understanding, she delved into the scientific literature, studying wolf ecology, biology and evolution.
She worked with Dr. Wilson and others to design a survey to gauge people’s responses ...in understanding how people read wolves, as opposed to seeing things through other filters and published texts,”
Angier does not , however note that competitive powerlifter Heywood is President of the Wman's Sport's Federation and authoress of The Third Wave Agenda