Connections 20019. The Darwin Connection: Evolution, Race and Culture
Though evolutionary thought long preceded the work of Charles Darwin, it is his work, beginning with On the Origin of Species (1859), that essentially defined what has become the discipline of evolutionary biology. Darwin was a Victorian gentleman, well educated and affluent. His identity as a scientist was as much informed and affected by his perceptions of Victorian society as by his work in science. And the impact of his work on society, in turn, was immediate.
This connection seeks to teach students about Darwin in the context of his 19th-century world. Information on Darwin, including his own writings–books, letters and journals–is truly voluminous and readily available. Students in BIO 111 will learn how Darwin the scientist was influenced, indeed molded, by Victorian culture, concerns and values. Students in ENG 235 will learn what evolutionary biology really is and why Darwin’s scientific work had such a dramatic impact on his era. Darwin’s writing has often been used in English literature courses for its general eloquence and its skilled use of metaphor, aspects that science students will find engaging and helpful in understanding evolutionary theory.