WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ALICE AND DARWIN? When I handed out today’s reading, which was selections from Alice in Wonderland, I asked the class to do two things: read it–and come up with an hypothesis as to why we were reading it. Published just six years after Origins, it’s hard to imagine that the kerfuffle … More WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ALICE AND DARWIN?


Mrs. Darwin 7 April 1852. Went to the Zoo. I said to him— Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you. By Carol Ann Duffy from her Selected Poems. (It’s midterms. We could all use a little levity.)


Dr. Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska, a cultural historian who specializes in the 19th and 20th centuries, visited class on Thursday to discuss social Darwinism, eugenics, and scientific racism. An energetic and engaging speaker, Dr. Rymsza-Pawlowska first showed us pictures of Chicago’s waterfront, one from 1820 and one from 1870 to remind us that Darwin’s publications coincided … More INDUSTRIALIZATION AND DARWIN


EUGENICS MEETS MATH On Tuesday, Dr. Fritz finished up the segment on eugenics, which is the belief and practice that humans can improve the gene pool by advocating reproduction with those of “higher” traits and suppressing reproduction of those with “lower” traits. It was fascinating to listen to Dr. Fritz condemn eugenics because how he … More EUGENICS MEETS MATH

Gender and Sexuality from a Biological Perspective

Gender and Sexuality from a Biological Perspective On Tuesday’s class, we moved into another effect of Darwin’s principles—and that involves our understanding of gender construction and sexuality. During Darwin’s time, gender roles were very much set in stone. The woman’s role centered around the home and raising children and the man’s role centered around the … More Gender and Sexuality from a Biological Perspective

The Connections between Frankenstein, Darwin, and Pasta

In Thursday’s class, we looked at two texts—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein and Erasmus Darwin’s poetry. The intent was to examine the intersections between biology and literature. The representation of science in poetry or science in literature is a fascinating subject—and one that I play with. But in the 1800s, before the sciences became so specialized, … More The Connections between Frankenstein, Darwin, and Pasta