Ant 98: Short Description

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Anthropology 98-034 (Directed Group Study) 
19th Century Origins of Evolutionary Anthropology
Winter Quarter 2004
T/Th 4:40-6:00PM; Location TBA; 4 hrs; CRN #51851

Short Description

When Engels reviewed Malthus' 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, he called it a "vile and infamous doctrine. . .[a] repulsive blasphemy against man and nature." The wife of the Anglican Bishop, Samuel Wilberforce, upon hearing an 1860 debate on views developed in Darwin's Origin of Species is reputed to have said: "Let us hope it is not true. But if it is, let us hope it does not become widely known." Strong words, and an uneasy reception for the ideas of these thinkers, now, both of them, very widely known.

This course will feature original texts, biographic and interpretive readings on the key figures of 19th Century revolution in evolutionary theory, including Lamarck, Malthus, Mendel, Wallace and Spencer, but focusing especially on Darwin. We will attend especially to their views on human origins, evolution, adaptation and behavior, and to the impact of their ideas on contemporary attempts to develop an evolutionary understanding of human origins and diversity.

We will begin with an extended video history of Darwin's formative intellectual experiences, as he described them in The Voyage of the Beagle and his autobiographical writings. I will supplement the film with lectures on the historical and intellectual context for the evolutionary work of Lamarck, and the research and evolutionary theories of Spencer and Wallace. We will make a close textual analysis of Malthus' An Essay on the Principle of Population, and then follow with major sections of Darwin's The Origin of SpeciesThe Descent of Man, and Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. We will consider the reactions of other scientists, clerics and the public to Darwin's ideas, through the end of the 19th Century and the emergence of social Darwinism. The last section of the class will bring the evolutionary theories of the middle-to-late 19th Century forward to those of the late 20th Century. Along with other controversies about the wisdom and consequences of attempting to understand humans in evolutionary terms, we will consider the modern critique by creationists.

The class will mix lecture and discussion. It should be useful as an introduction or complement to a variety of upper-level anthropology courses in archaeology, biological anthropology, human and primate evolution, human and primate behavioral ecology, and Darwinian medicine and psychology. Majors in Anthropology, Biology, History of Science and Psychology should find the course especially useful.

Please contact Prof. Bruce Winterhalder (; 218 Young Hall if you have questions or suggestions.