Charlee Bezilla Awarded Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship

Printer-friendly version

Charlee Redman Bezilla has been awarded the Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship for fall 2020. Her dissertation is rooted in the intersections of literature and the history of science in the second half of the eighteenth century in France. In particular, she studies the novelist Nicolas-Edme Rétif de la Bretonne and the construction of formal and biological hybridity in his 1781 novel La Découverte australe. Often considered a bizarre work of early science fiction, the novel demonstrates a deep engagement with contemporary developments in natural history and philosophy during the “Tournant des Lumières.” It follows an enterprising young peasant who discovers a gamut of hybrid creatures populating the newly explored southern hemisphere, “beast-men” that the text uses to interrogate the status of the human and the possibility of its moral and especially physical perfectibility. Her dissertation will also examine how ideas about degeneration and regeneration, so important to politicians and thinkers of the revolutionary period, influence the protagonist’s proto-eugenic, imperialist efforts to improve the human race through a biopolitical project of hybridization and intermarriage.