Genealogies of Genetics: Historicising Contemporary Science in Simon Mawer’s Mendel’s Dwarf and A.S. Byatt’s A Whistling Woman

  • Paul Hamann
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


Tracing two genealogies of genetics in two contemporary science novels, Hamann identifies the historicising of scientific knowledge and practice as a new trend in the history of the novel. He argues that the foregrounding of scientific historical difference in both Simon Mawer’s Mendel’s Dwarf and A.S. Byatt’s A Whistling Woman reflects the central tenet of twentieth-century philosophy of science that scientific epistemology is historically specific. At the same time, Hamann uncovers the novels’ engagement with past genetic practice as a critique of genetics in the twenty-first century. Exploring the literary forms through which the two novels historicise genetic science, Hamann offers an original perspective on how the aesthetics of the two texts inform and are informed by their investigation of scientific epistemology.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Hamann
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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