Michael Tondre presented a paper entitled “‘A Nat’ral Born Friend’: Friendship, Filiation, and Group Selection in Dombey and Son” at the North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Nashville, TN. The paper traces the complex interconnections between Charles Darwin’s theories about non-reproductive sexuality and representations of the bachelor and spinster in Charles Dickens’s novel. Both scientific and literary writers, argues Tondre, were working to theorize the paradoxically potent outcomes of infertility. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the failure of sexual reproduction could allow one to extend one’s genetic legacy far beyond the immediate self, and ultimately to foster larger processes of communal regeneration. The paper is culled from a manuscript-in-progress titled Diffusive Energies, which argues for a fresh approach to the origins of British aestheticism in a range of scientific and non-scientific discourses in ninteenth-century contexts.
Tondre presents paper at NAVSA conference
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