Victorian novels like Pride and Prejudice teach us how to behavehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/4239733/Victorian-novels-like-Pride-and-Prejudice-teach-us-how-to-behave.htmlHierarchy in the Library: Egalitarian Dynamics in Victorian Novels [pdf]http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/ep06715738.pdfBelieving in 19th century novelshttp://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/jan/14/literature-evolutionary-advantage-university-missouriGruel served up to hungry publichttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7825015.stmMedieval Food and Cooking: Gruel Recipeshttp://www.medievalplus.com/food-cooking/recipes-gruel.htmlMost people would not associate Bram Stoker's (in)famous character Count Dracula with the transformation of Victorian-era society, but the work of a group of evolutionary psychologists may bring these seemingly disparate things close together. In the most recent edition of the journal, Evolutionary Psychology, Joseph Carroll at the University of Missouri and his colleagues make the claim that the values espoused by works like Middlemarch, Dracula, and Pride and Prejudice "helped to uphold social order and encouraged altruistic genes to spread through Victorian society." In an effort to apply Darwin's theory of evolution to literature, Carroll and his colleagues asked 500 academics to fill in questionnaires on characters from 201 classic Victorian novels. As part of the questionnaire, the respondents were also asked to define characters as protagonists or antagonists, rate their personality traits and comment on their emotional response to the characters. In essence, the researchers claim that the effect of such moralizing literature was to "uphold and instill a sense of fairness and altruism in society at large." It's an intriguing idea, and one that will probably be discussed in academic circles at great length. On a seemingly unrelated note, yet curiously coincidental, the Royal Society of Chemistry served up free bowls of that common Victorian workhouse staple, gruel, this week at their headquarters. The first link will take visitors to piece from the Guardian's Wednesday edition. Here visitors can read a bit more about the work of Professor Carroll and also check out links to other relevant articles. The second link leads to a similarly oriented article from Richard Alleyne, the science correspondent for the Telegraph newspaper. Moving on, the third link will whisk visitors away to the complete text of the recent scholarly article which appeared in Evolutionary Psychology. The fourth link will take visitors to a compelling and thoughtful bit of commentary on this recent research by John Sutherland from the Guardian's Books Blog. The fifth link leads to a news article from the BBC that reports on the recent gruel-based generosity of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Finally, the last link leads to a spot-on recipe for gruel, compliments of the Medieval Plus website.


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