Algebraic Art


ACLS Fellowship Program


English Literature


This project studies theories of representation in Victorian science and art. While critics have long recognized the impact of scientific practice on Victorian realism, they’ve paid little attention to the aesthetic implications of scientific theory, which was less concerned with the referential function of signs than their systemic relations to each other. If, in its inductive mode, Victorian science sponsored realism, in its deductive mode it sponsored the production of strikingly anti-realist works of art. The wonderlands described in these novels, poems, and photographs signal the advent of a logical and self-referential aesthetic, one that celebrates form for its own sake and anticipates the modernist preoccupation with abstraction and formal innovation.