Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist" (1891)



Ferguson C (2009) Oscar Wilde, "The Critic as Artist" (1891). Victorian Review, 35 (1), pp. 64-68.

First paragraph: In current Victorian studies scholarship, the popularity of biodeterminist thought as an object of study seems to exist in inverse proportion to its status as a hermeneutic tool. Aware of and perhaps defensive about the Victorian period's role in germinating the hard hereditarian thought whose consequences would become so notorious in the twentieth century, much of our work in the last few decades has set out to expose nineteenth-century evolutionary determinism as far moreindeterminatethan it might initially appear, to expose the uncertainty, liminality, and destabilizing anxiety that lurks in the work of, for example, Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Cesare Lombroso, or Max Nordau. This tendency, a product of our discipline's extremely productive interactions with post-structuralism, feminism, post-colonialism, and critical race theory, has repeatedly raised the ire of contemporary sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists who indict it with undermining the so-called basic truth thatallhuman behaviour is the product of evolutionary adaptation and hence rooted in our genetically based human nature.

Victorian Review: Volume 35, Issue 1

Publication date30/04/2009
PublisherJohns Hopkins University Press

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Professor Christine Ferguson

Professor Christine Ferguson

Professor in English, English Studies