The inner beast
Scientific experimentation in George MacDonald’s ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’
in In the company of wolves
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This chapter examines the implications of theories of Darwinism and degeneration on concepts of child rearing. These theories and concepts are explored in relation to George MacDonald’s short fantasy tale ‘The History of Photogen and Nycteris’. The chapter argues that the tale functions as a conceptual space through which to explore the ramifications of degeneration and evolution as MacDonald understood them. This is achieved by focusing on the child-rearing practices used on two children, Photogen and Nycteris, who are placed within engineered environments to influence their development. The tension between scientific expectations of the children’s behaviours, and their actual behaviour as they engage with the world using their imaginations, provides a basis from which MacDonald critiques scientific approaches to child-rearing.

In the company of wolves

Werewolves, wolves and wild children

Editors: Sam George and Bill Hughes

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