Among the books coming out in this fall’s Duke University Press catalog (pdf) is one I’m particularly looking forward to: Elizabeth Grosz’s Becoming Undone: Darwinian Reflections on Life, Politics, and Art.
Grosz is among the most exciting thinkers in the post-Deleuzian landscape — a tremendous synthesist of the biological (especially Darwinian), philosophical (especially “vital materialist”), and feminist (notably drawing on Luce Irigaray here), whose work offers rich insights for bridging the sciences and humanities.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb for it. I’ve emphasized my favorite bit.
In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related concepts—life, politics, and art—by exploring the implications of Charles Darwin’s account of the evolution of species. Challenging characterizations of Darwin’s work as a form of genetic determinism, Grosz points out that his writing reveals an insistence on the difference between natural selection and sexual selection, the principles that regulate survival and attractiveness respectively. Sexual selection complicates natural selection by introducing aesthetic factors and the expression of individual will, desire, or pleasure. Grosz explores how Darwin’s theory of sexual selection transforms philosophy, our understanding of humanity in its male and female forms, our ideas of political relations, and our concepts of art. Connecting the naturalist’s work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as modes of competing and coordinating forms of openness. Although feminists have been suspicious of the concepts of nature and biology central to Darwin’s work, Grosz proposes that his writings are a rich resource for developing a more politicized, radical, and far-reaching feminist understanding of matter, nature, biology, time, and becoming.
The book should be out in August. I’m very interested to know what evolutionary biologists would make of Grosz’s spin on Darwinism, so I hope it gets the reviews and wide readership it deserves.