Situated at the intersection of literature and science, Holland's study draws upon a diverse corpus of literary and scientific texts which testify to a cultural fascination with procreation around 1800. Through readings which range from Goethe’s writing on metamorphosis to Novalis’s aphorisms and novels and Ritter’s Fragments from the Estate of a Young Physicist, Holland proposes that each author contributes to a scientifically-informed poetics of procreation. Rather than subscribing to a single biological theory (such as epigenesis or preformation), these authors take their inspiration from a wide inventory of procreative motifs and imagery.
"Holland’s insightful and compelling account brings alive some important debates in Romantic science, illuminating a fascinating chapter in the history of vitalism and materialism alike." – Paul Bishop, University of Glasgow, UK, Modern Language Review
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Poetic Procreation and Goethe’s Theory of Metamorphosis
Chapter Three: Friedrich von Hardenberg and the Discourse of Procreation
Chapter Four: The Poet as Artisan and the Instruments of Procreation
Chapter Five: Johann Wilhelm Ritter and the Writing of Life
Chapter Six: Procreative Thinking - Scientific Projects