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The Machine in the TextScience and Literature in the Age of Shakespeare and Galileo$
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Howard Marchitello

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608058.001.0001

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Time's Arrow

Time's Arrow

(p.185) 7 Time's Arrow
The Machine in the Text

Howard Marchitello

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to a series of challenges posed famously in C. P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, particularly Snow's assessment of the science-literature agon and his perceived privileging of science. Less a contribution to the so-called Culture Wars than an attempt to understand Snow's arguments about culture and history, this chapter is especially concerned to rethink his later rejection of thermodynamics as the model for intellectual inquiry. In its place Snow identifies molecular biology and the new science of DNA as the ideal measures of scientific literacy and the ideal intellectual model for both cultures. In the figure of the double helix, Snow finds evidence that at the molecular level the material world is a work of art. From this new perspective on the “two cultures,” the chapter returns to the art–nature debate that was central to the literary and scientific works under consideration throughout this book.

Keywords:   C. P. Snow, two cultures, thermodynamics, double helix, crystallography, entropy

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