Wig-Wags

Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

“Darwin’s Legacy” on Academic Earth – The 19th Century Milieu

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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

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I find endlessly fascinating the global milieu of the 19th century.  Academic Earth has recently made available an absolutely superb ten lecture course, Darwin’s Legacy. This was a special course organized by Stanford University. Its glue is Dr. William H. Durham, Bing Professor of Anthropological Studies Stanford University.

Much is shared by the outstanding group of lecturers (some of the world’s top scholars representing multiple disciplines) in this course about the world of middle 1800’s. Recall that Charles Darwin’s most famous work was published as America was on the verge of Civil War.

  • 1859 On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is published in London, Nov. 24 by John Murray.
  • 1860 Publishes 2nd edition of Origin. Foreign editions appear. Begins work on Variation book.
  • 1861 Continued work on Variation book. Published 3rd edition of Origin. Began work on Orchid book.

You can find his complete works online at the delightful British site, The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online.

Course Description

“Light will be thrown…” With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life.

Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwins birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwins far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sounds fascinating, though I think whoever wrote the course description should understand that Darwin’s theory of evolution is just that – a theory. That’s OK: even one of Darwin’s descendants gets it wrong, comparing evolution to gravity which is, of course, a law.

    Harry Smeltzer

    August 25, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    • Symantics, my dear Harry. Do you not think our knowledge of gravity, like our knowledge of evolution, will not evolve? I believe it will. Reality is the theory, in all applications, which I prefer.

      Alison Addicks

      February 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm


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