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Cultural evolution ramblings and evolutionary literature

Okay, so this may be a silly thing to write about but this class seems to be seeping into my everyday life.  So, I went to see 300 over break (a friend wanted to see it.)  For those that don’t know it’s the story of the Spartan King Leonidas who took his 300 soldiers and held off the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C.  The movie was an action flick and was pretty good, if you’re into that type of thing.  However, what struck me was the Spartan culture, granted I have not taken any classics course and know very little here.  I was amazed at their culture and how this culture evolved to be such a war faring people.  These individuals raised their sons from birth to be fighters and soldiers, the women were raised to support this.  It was honorable to die in battle, basically you should come back a winner or you should come back dead.  I know this isn’t the only culture like this, however what interest me is how these types of cultures evolved into this way of life.  Rather maybe cultures that are not so war centric evolved past these cultures and these cultures are the “original.”  Or maybe we are just seeing group cohesions here.  The Spartans also took natural selection in to their own hands, if a child was born that was not fit to be a warrior they we killed, granted, I know this is done to preserve the resources of the group.  Basically, I was just amazed at how cultures can evolve to cherish different values.

 Okay on to new stuff!  So last Thursday in Prof. Grobstein’s group we talked about the similarities between evolution and literature.  What I found most interesting is comparing the evolution of species and the evolution of genres in literature.  In biology we see many organisms evolving that are crossing and blurring what we would call the “species line.”   Bacteria are a direct example, they take their DNA from other bacteria and cross it with their own bacteria, how can we classify this?  This same thing happens in literature and genres.  There are many pre-established genres: comedy, fiction, drama etc.  However what is popular now often is movies or books that come from hybrid genres, such as “drama-dys.”  I think we are seeing the same evolutionary forces working in biological evolution as well as in evolution in literature.  In biology we often strive to figure out what the “original” or starting organism was, in the same we strive to find what the original genre or idea is in literature.


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