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The Dialogue of Art and Science in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia

The Dialogue of Art and Science in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia

Liliane Campos


In a country house in Derbyshire in 1809, thirteen-year-old Thomasina Coverly decides to invent a new Geometry of Irregular Forms. Her mathematical discoveries are in advance of her time, but they match the transformations of Sidley Park, in which the Arcadian landscape of the 18th century is giving way to Romantic disorder. They also echo the irregular, unpredictable nature of sexual attraction which she observes around her, and the sentimental imbroglio that Hannah Jarvis and Bernard Nightingale will attempt to unravel 180 years later. In the comical entanglements that ensue, art and science engage in a witty dramatic dialogue, and sex is always part of the equation.


Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia plays with the traditional divisions between Classicism and Romanticism, art and science, order and disorder. This book focuses on close readings of the text, and will provide students with the necessary historical, critical and theoretical background to discuss these tensions and their relation to the key themes of time, desire and loss.

Presses Universitaires de France – CNED (Centre National d’Enseignement à Distance)


Liliane Campos

A professor of Literary and Theatre Studies in the Department of Anglophone Studies at the University la Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, Liliane Campos is particularly interested in contemporary Anglophone literature, the biological perspective in literature and the intromissions of the living into contemporary art. She is also a lecturer in Anglophone and theatre studies.


In her own words: “My project explores the biological position taken by contemporary literature in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries from an aesthetic, epistemic and ethical point of view. My central hypothesis is that the images and discourses of the life sciences produce, in literature, a shifting of the scales, modifying our perception of the human. It is about measuring the hermeneutic role of these disruptions, the political issues they raise, and their effects on literary form. My personal research focuses on Anglophone literature, from the 1980s to the present day, and is part of a programme of meetings that address contemporary literature in an international and inter-artistic context.”


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