HIST 4122 Darwin and the Making of Histories (also BSOC 4122, STS 4122) (HA-AS) (HNU) (HEU)
Professor Peter Dear
The power of a name is sometimes as great as that of an idea. This course will study how Darwin became, then and now, an icon rather than just a Victorian naturalist. We will look at writings of Darwin himself, especially On the Origin of Species (1859), Descent of Man (1871), and his short autobiography, and attempt to understand what they meant in their own time, how Darwin came to write them, and how his contemporaries helped to shape their future. How did Victorian ideologies of gender, race, and class shape the production and reception of Darwin’s work? We will also examine the growth of “Darwinism” as a set of broader social and cultural movements, particularly in Britain and the United States. Were eugenics movements examples or perversions of Darwinism? Finally, we will consider how Darwin’s name has been used by more recent evolutionary biologists and by American anti-evolutionists.