HIS 102E: Darwin, Darwinism, and the Social Life of Science in the Nineteenth Century

HIS 102E—Undergraduate Proseminar in History; Europe Since 1815 (5) Seminar—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Limited enrollment. Designed primarily for history majors. Intensive reading, discussion, research, and writing in selected topics in the various fields of history. Europe since 1815. May be repeated for credit. GE credit: WE. Effective: 1997 Winter Quarter.


Professor Daniel Stolzenberg






Spring 2019


Among the most influential and controversial figures in modern history, Charles Darwin became a global celebrity following publication of his theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859. From his youth, Darwin’s career was entangled with major historical developments, including the transformation of British society and culture in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of empire. In this seminar we will explroe Darwin’s thought and career through his published works and private papers. In particular, we will investigate his social network, making use of the online Darwin’s Correspondence Project, containing over 9000 fully searchable letters that Darwin wrote or received. Depending on students’ interests, these rich materials can form the basis for research projects on a wide range of topics related to science, empire, gender, sexuality, religion, race, capitalism, and social movements. Students will learn how to conceptualize, investigate, and write an original research paper. 

Required texts:

Charles Darwin, Evolutionary Writings

Janet Browne, Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography