Science and Literature

For an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of science and literature, see George Slusser and George Guffey, “Literature and Science,” pp. 176–204 in Barricelli and Gibaldi, Interrelations of Literature (U5955).

Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Encyclopedia of Literature and Science. Ed. Pamela Gossin. Westport: Greenwood, 2002. 575 pp. PN55.E53 809′.93356.

An encyclopedia of themes, writers, theories, concepts, organizations, objects, and scientific fields important to the interdisciplinary study of literature and science. The approximately 650 signed entries (ranging from 50 to about 3,500 words) emphasize the scientific aspects of literary topics and the literary aspects of scientific ones; most conclude with suggestions for further reading. The bulk of the entries are for individuals (including several literary authors with a tenuous connection to science [e.g., Aristophanes, Victor Hugo, and Philip Sidney]); several entries not on individuals are too brief to offer a clear explanation of their subject (e.g., anthroposophy and colonialism) and several on scientific topics establish no discernible relation to literature (e.g., biophilia, black box, chaos and chaotic systems, Schrödinger’s cat, and scientific textbooks). Concludes with a selected bibliography. Indexed by persons, titles, and subjects (the fuller Web-based index will not be posted). Although needing a firmer editorial hand, the better entries are useful entry points into the study of science and literature and thus make Encyclopedia of Literature and Science a useful resource in this emerging field.

Guides to Scholarship

Serial Bibliographies


Relations of Science to Literature and the Arts, [1950– ]. Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. Soc. for Lit., Science, and the Arts, n.d. 4 Feb. 2013. <>.

  • 1989–99: Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 1–9 (1993–2001).

  • 1984–88: PSLS: Publication of the Society for Literature and Science 1–5 (1986–90).

  • 1980–83: Relations of Literature and Science: A Bibliography of Scholarship, [1980–83]. Ed. Walter Schatzberg. 4 vols. Worcester: Clark UP, 1982–84.

  • 1972–79: Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History 4–10 (1974–80).

  • 1950–66: Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Foreign Literatures 5–21 (1951–67).

An international bibliography of scholarship (including dissertations) treating in some fashion the relation between science and literature, the visual arts, or music. Originally “Relations of Literature and Science,” the title was changed in 1999 to reflect the actual scope. Entries (which provide merely basic bibliographical information) are now listed alphabetically by author in 14 divisions: biological sciences; computers and digital technology; environmental sciences; exploration, discovery, or travel; medicine; occult sciences; physical and mathematical sciences; popular science; psychological and cognitive sciences; rhetoric of science; science and technology; social sciences; technology; and theory. Three indexes: scholars; subjects (i.e., persons); topics. The electronic version allows for simply keyword searching of citations or keywords; in the bibliographies for 2001 and 2002 essays from a collection are not linked to the entry for the collection and some journal title abbreviations and acronyms are not expanded. The subject indexing is primitive in both the print and electronic versions; researchers with access to Project Muse (K705) can search the bibliographies for 1989–99 through their Web browser. There are omissions, coverage is far in arrears (the bibliography for 2004 was identified as “new” in February 2013), and Schatzberg, Waite, and Johnson, Relations of Literature and Science (U6445), supersedes the bibliographies through 1980, but Relations of Science to Literature and the Arts is the best source for identifying scholarship on literature and science. Researchers should also check “Science,” “Scientific,” and related headings in the subject index of post-1980 volumes of and in the online thesaurus to MLAIB (G335).

Other Bibliographies


Schatzberg, Walter, Ronald A. Waite, and Jonathan K. Johnson, eds. The Relations of Literature and Science: An Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship, 1880–1980. New York: MLA, 1987. 458 pp. Z6511.R44 [PN55] 016.809′93356.

An annotated bibliography of scholarship (including dissertations) on the relation between science and Western literature (primarily English, American, French, and German). International in scope, the work covers studies that treat a specific aspect of the relation between the two areas, including the literary qualities of scientific works, scientific and literary discourse, and the representation of science or pseudoscience in literary works. Studies of medicine in literature are limited to those dealing with scientific aspects of the field, and studies of science fiction are restricted to those examining the treatment of science per se. Schatzberg excludes general works on cultural history and the history of science.

The approximately 2,500 entries are organized alphabetically by author in eight divisions: general works (with sections for the interactions of literature and science and for surveys), antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, then by century. Each period division has sections for general studies and individual authors (but to locate all studies on an author, one must consult the subject index). Annotations clearly describe the focus and content of works and cite reviews of books. Two indexes: scholars; subjects. Thorough within its limits, clearly annotated, and effectively indexed, the Annotated Bibliography is the essential source for identifying studies of the treatment of individual scientists and scientific themes, theories, and disciplines in literature. Review: Eric S. Rabkin, YCGL: Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature 37 (1988): 215–17.

Schatzberg, Waite, and Johnson incorporates and expands the annual “Relations of Literature and Science” and Fred A. Dudley, ed., The Relations of Literature and Science: A Selected Bibliography, 1930–1967 (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1968; 137 pp.). For studies after 1980, see Relations of Science to Literature and the Arts (U6440).

See also

Woodress, Dissertations in American Literature, 1891–1966 (Q3320).