HC 221H: Evolution & The Modern

Professor: Suzanne Clark

4.00 credits

  • CRN 26149: Monday & Wednesday, 1615 - 1745 @ REMOTE

The Origin of Species, published by Darwin in 1859, caused an immediate sensation.  It has been changing the way we talk about the relationships of humans, animals and all of life ever since.

This class will focus not on contemporary evolutionary science, but on the turn of the 20th century (19th/20th) when the impact of evolution was dramatic.  It appeared as clashes between religion and science, but also as a literary and artistic revolution--and debate--that overturned the old order of narrative (species within a grand design) and introduced new variety in literature, and indeed, an embrace of the new as well as resistance.

We'll compare Darwin to the famous 19th century anti-evolutionist biologist, Louis Agassiz.  Both used natural history writing, based on repeated observation, comparison, and description. What was Darwin's amazing difference?  Was it that he overturned the stability of hierarchy, the "Great Chain of Being"?