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Stephanie L. Hawkins
University of North Texas (Denton, TX 76203-5017)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 8/31/2011

Modern Science, Modernist Art: The Radical Empiricism of William James

This book chapter situates William James’s “radical empiricism” and its impact on modernism in the context of discoveries in modern physics. Radium, quantum physics, and the X-ray not only intensified religious faith in what James called “the reality of the unseen,” but, more importantly, provided an anti-positivist language for describing the hidden dimensions of mind and the cultural role of belief. This chapter will lead off a book on modernists who follow James in their exploration of the “invisible reality” of psychological experience. These writers experiment with scientific and religious varieties of “conversion” in order to elaborate new theories of mind and artistic transformation. By exposing the invisible cultural forces that informed not only positivist science but also individual belief, they created socially transformative art. When completed, this project will advance our understanding of American modernism and literature and science.