The course aims at investigating the different lines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries cultural trends. Without excluding the study of cultural contexts between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the course aims at offering a representation of the literary phenomenology assuming narrativity as a means of exploring both change and continuity between the Victorian age and the Twentieth century age.
Once the epistemic-cultural framework of Victorianism has been described, we will focus on the figure of George Eliot, an artist who explored the complex network of relationships linking the great historical events to individual destinies. While examining the theme of mutual interference between different cultural spheres, Eliot often (not in Daniel Deronda, though) takes the point of view of her heroines, trapped in the ideological cages of the Victorian episteme. The cultural and axiological transformation that took place from the beginning of the Victorian era insinuated an idea of destruction within the organicistic theories. Cartesian thought, attempting an analysis of the mind and the human subject, delineated a dualistic image of a dramatically lacerated man. A specific task of the debate raised by the so-called English "physiological psychology" between the Thirties and Seventies of the nineteenth century was to attempt a resolution of the crucial problem represented by the mind-body relationship.
Darwin’s evolutionary theories, far from becoming a general view of the world, represent themselves as dogma. It might well be true that evolutionary theory now forms the paradigm within which most thinking about biology takes place. All science is built on theories, which in turn make assumptions, so there is no absolute on which to build. Christianity claims not to be built on theory but on revelation. It goes without saying that it is impossible to fully rationalize the content of Christian axioms. Scientism is then reductionism.
Doris Lessing arrives at an aesthetic of transcendence in which also Eliot’s doctrine of humanity converges. The good is possible thanks to the gift of solidarity among like-minded people, of the communion that transcends the small individual meanings to produce, at a higher level, harmony and a voice capable of entering into dialogue with the divine.