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Dr Cathryn Setz

Associate Visiting Research Fellow 2018-19, Rothermere American Institute
Cathryn Setz

Dr Setz is working on the links between early twentieth-century life sciences and literary culture, with special emphasis on periodicals and reading communities. The project seeks to uncover the history of early journalistic and creative satirical takes on popular pseudoscience, especially the enormous popularity of negative eugenics in the United States during the 1920s. Works by figures such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marianne Moore, and Langston Hughes often parodied the racist or teleological logic underpinning contemporary biological discourse. By locating key texts in a wider material history of popular science journalism, we might better understand how modernist writers critiqued received ideas about evolution during the period known as the ‘Eclipse of Darwinism’ (1875-1925). Dr Setz is especially interested in the Harlem Renaissance, and is working with the Rothermere American Institute Vere Harmsworth Library's unique collection of African American literary magazines.