The scientific discovery that chaotic systems embody deep structures of order is one of such wide-ranging implications that it has attracted attention across a spectrum of disciplines, including the humanities. In this volume, fourteen theorists explore the significance for literary and cultural studies of the new paradigm of chaotics, forging connections between contemporary literature and the science of chaos. They examine how changing ideas of order and disorder enable new readings of scientific and literary texts, from Newton’s Principia to Ruskin’s autobiography, from Victorian serial fiction to Borges’s short stories.
N. Katherine Hayles traces shifts in meaning that chaos has undergone within the Western tradition, suggesting that the science of chaos articulates categories that cannot be assimilated into the traditional dichotomy of order and disorder. She and her contributors take the relation between order and disorder as a theme and develop its implications for understanding texts, metaphors, metafiction, audience response, and the process of interpretation itself. Their innovative and diverse work opens the interdisciplinary field of chaotics to literary inquiry.