Interdisciplinarity in Zola’s Enterprise – Scientific Method and Experimentality in Literature

  • Jovana Trandafilović University of Niš, Faculty of Philosophy
Keywords: interdisciplinarity, naturalism, experimentality, heredity, XIX century


In this paper we aim to explain one of the first attempts of interdisciplinarity between two extremes – science and literature. After a short review of Emile Zola’s biography, we look at the period of the separation between science and art, with the rise of science in the XIX century, which determines Zola’s work. Then we define two dominant literature movements in France in the course of XIX century – realism and naturalism. Afterwards, we commit to the analysis of Zola’s The Experimental Novel, as well as the problem of heredity and interdiscplinarity in the The Rougon-Macquart cycle. We focus on the examples illustrating Zola’s use of the experimental method in his work, on his meticulous way of documenting, as well as the way the Rougon-Macquart’s family tree evolved in his mind. Special emphasis is given to the preface of Thérèse Raquin, second edition, which is, along with The Experimental Novel, one of the writings in favour of naturalism and application of the experimental method in literature. We conclude with the fact that it is impossible to create science out of a novel, as well as that the science in Zola’s work is only an illusion and that its real value is artistic.

How to Cite
Trandafilović, J. (2018). Interdisciplinarity in Zola’s Enterprise – Scientific Method and Experimentality in Literature. Noema: Journal for Humanities and Social Thought, 3(5), 73-99. Retrieved from