Miller's milieu, or, the cultural moments of late humanism: science and religion in the golden age of science fiction Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Thiess, Derek J.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This work demonstrates that the shift in scholarship regarding science and religion away from a warfare model in the first half of the 20th century and the effect of this shift on American literature of the 1950’s and 1960’s, altered greatly the disposition of the humanities toward science. When scholars stopped regarding the interaction of science and religion as one of conflict, it became unfashionable to so much as mention conflict or warfare when discussing either camp. The method of investigation most scholars prefer, even more so in recent years, is to view science and religion through a model known as the complexity thesis, which exists seemingly only to negate conflict. This essay argues that the complexity thesis is not truly complex, due to its obdurate refusal to acknowledge often physical conflicts between proponents of science and religion. This refusal carries over into science fiction of the mid-20th century, in texts like Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, where it becomes a whitewash of significant historical moments of conflict such as the trial of Galileo. The complexity approach thus became popular by colonizing genre fiction in order to evangelize the masses. This moment of popularization alters not only the humanistic approach to science, but also the nature of the humanities itself, first by disallowing conflict then by forgetting its victims.
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  • Koelb, Clayton
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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