Travis Wilds

Dissertation Fellow
2012-2013
Image of Travis Wilds.

In his dissertation The Science of the Future: Epistemic Virtues in the Literary and Scientific “Milieux” of Post-Enlightenment France (1780-1840), Travis Wilds (French) examines the intrinsic links between the questions “What is literature?” and “What is science?” at the inception of literary and scientific modernity in France in an effort to re-write a historiography largely based on a transhistorical distinction between the two. Through an investigation into the texts of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Rétif de la Bretonne, and Balzac, Mr. Wilds shows how post-Enlightenment literary figures not only commonly intervened in debates about the methods and scope of the sciences, but also viewed literary production as a valid site for generating epistemic and aesthetic values. In examining the volatile processes of mutual definition that first made it possible to refer to literature and science as distinct entities in France, “The Science of the Future” describes the competition among epistemological criteria associated with their differentiation as a case of emergent “fields.”

Mr. Wilds is also the recipient of the Jeffrey Berg Fellowship in the Humanities.