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Darwin, Darwinism, and the Modern World by Chandak Sengoopta

Darwin, Darwinism, and the Modern World

by Chandak Sengoopta

Title Details

Audio Original
Running Time
8 Hrs.


The history of Western civilization can be divided neatly into pre-Darwinian and post-Darwinian periods. Darwin’s 1859 treatise, On the Origin of Species, was not the first work to propose that organisms had descended from other, earlier organisms and the mechanism of evolution it proposed remained controversial for years. Nevertheless, no biologist after 1859 could ignore Darwin’s theories and few areas of thought and culture remained immune to their influence.

Darwinism was attacked, defended, debated, modified, ridiculed, championed, interpreted, and used not only by biologists but also by philosophers, priests, sociologists, warmongers, cartoonists, robber-barons, psychologists, novelists, and politicians of arious stripes. This course will introduce the major themes of Darwin’s works and explore their diverse, often contradictory impacts on science and society from 1859 to the present.

Chandak Sengoopta holds degrees from the University of Calcutta, Cornell University, and Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology. He is currently senior lecturer on the history of modern medicine and science at the University of London, and is the author of numerous publications, including the books Imprint of the Raj: How Fingerprinting was Born in Colonial India and Otto Weininger: Sex, Science, and Self in Imperial Vienna.

Lecture 1 Charles Darwin: The Man, His Life, and His Contexts, Part I

Lecture 2 Charles Darwin: The Man, His Life, and His Contexts, Part II

Lecture 3 On the Origin of Species: The Fundamental Arguments

Lecture 4 On the Origin of Species: The Unresolved Issues and the Achievements

Lecture 5 The Descent of Man: Man’s Place in Nature

Lecture 6 The Scientific Response to Darwin

Lecture 7 Cultural and Religious Debates on Evolution in the Victorian Era

Lecture 8 “Social Darwinism” and the Natural Basis of Society

Lecture 9 Race, Gender, and Evolution

Lecture 10 Evolution, Language, and Literature

Lecture 11 Evolution and Religion

Lecture 12 The “Modern Synthesis”: Evolution Meets Genetics

Lecture 13 Eugenics: A Helping Hand for Evolution

Lecture 14 At Century’s End: Fresh Debates and Old Concerns

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