The relationship between the Aristotelian, Newtonian and holistic scientific paradigms and selected British detective fiction 1980-2010

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Goldsmith, Hilary Anne (2010)
  • Subject: PN

This thesis examines the changing relationship between key elements of the Aristotelian, Newtonian and holistic scientific paradigms and contemporary detective fiction. The work of scholars including N. Katherine Hayles, Martha A. Turner has applied Thomas S. Kuhn’s notion of scientific paradigms to literary works, especially those of the Victorian period. There seemed to be an absence, however, of research of a similar academic standard exploring the relationship between scientific worldviews and detective fiction. Extending their scholarship, this thesis seeks to open up debate in what was perceived to be an under-represented area of literary study.\ud \ud The thesis begins by identifying the main precepts of the three paradigms. It then offers a chronological overview of the developing relationship between these precepts and detective fiction from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four (1890) to P.D.James’s The Black Tower (1975). The present state of this interaction is assessed through a detailed analysis of representative examples of the detective fiction of Reginald Hill, Barbara Nadel, and Quintin Jardine written between 1980 and 2010.\ud \ud The thesis concludes that by presenting the interrelatedness characteristic of the holistic paradigm in a positive light, the work of Hill, Nadel and Jardine may facilitate a paradigm shift away from the dominant Newtonian paradigm towards a more holistic worldview. Further, contemporary detective fiction may have an important role to play in acclimatising its readership to a more inclusive worldview.\ud \ud This research identifies several areas for future study. It would be interesting to extend this work to take account of detective fiction from other cultures. It would also be fascinating to investigate the relationship between structure (of both the narrative and the plot) and scientific pattern in order to assess just how far scientific concepts and detective fiction are interconnected.
  • References (15)
    15 references, page 1 of 2

    Bell, I.A. Ed. (1990) Watching the Detectives, London, Macmillan.

    Binyon, T.J. (1989) 'Murder will Out': The Detective in Fiction, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

    Cairney, Maria, (2008) 'The Healing Art of Detection: Sherlock Holmes and the Disease of Crime in the Strand Magazine'. Clues 26.1, 62 - 74.

    Chernick, Warren, Martin Swaley, Robert Vilain, eds. (2000) The Art of Detective Fiction, London, St Martin's Press.

    Frank, Lawrence (2003) Victorian Detective Fiction and the Nature of Evidence: The Scientific Investigations of Poe, Dickens and Doyle, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan.

    Gillis, Stacy and Philippa Gates (2002) The Devil Himself: Villainy in Detective Fiction and Film, London, Greenwood Press.

    Horsley, Lee (2005) Twentieth Century Crime Fiction. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

    Knight, Stephen (2004) Crime Fiction 1800 - 2000: Detection, Death, Diversity, Hampshire, Palgrave.

    Knight, Stephen (1980) Form and Ideology in Crime Fiction, London, Macmillan.

    Ling, Peter J. (2006) 'Identity, Allusions, and Agency in Reginald Hill's Good

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