2019 Darwin Workshop

Imagining the Darwinian Revolution:
The Place of History in Science

5 – 7 June 2019, The University of QueenslandAustralia

This international workshop at the University of Queensland, to be held in conjunction with the 2019 meeting of the International Society for Intellectual History (ISIH), is part of a project that seeks to consider the relationship between the development of evolution and its historical representations by focussing on the historiographical notion of the Darwinian Revolution. The very idea of the Darwinian Revolution is a historical construct devised to help explain the changing scientific and cultural landscape that was ushered in by Darwin’s singular contribution to natural science. But even while its general meaning has long been contested, the nature of that contestation has been minimized by both scientists and historians who are understandably committed to promoting their own interpretations of its significance, interpretations that are themselves shaped by contemporary social, political, and cultural circumstances. But what if these interpretations play a role in shaping the development of evolutionary science itself? Imagining the Darwinian Revolution: The Place of History in Science seeks to explore how history has been interpreted, deployed, and exploited to fashion the science behind our changing understandings of evolution over the past century.

Confirmed speakers: Alison Bashford (UNSW), Gowan Dawson (Leicester), Piers Hale (Oklahoma), Emily Herring (Leeds), Erika Lorraine Milam (Princeton), Evelleen Richards (Sydney).

Call for Papers

For the purposes of the workshop, submissions are encouraged that address this interplay between the development of evolution and its history from a variety of perspectives and periods. Of particular interest are explorations of how the more mythologized episodes in the history of evolution have been imagined to explain, justify, or even shape contemporary developments of evolution, from considerations of the “Darwinian Revolution” to other episodes typically deemed central to it such as the “Eclipse of Darwin” and the “Modern Synthesis” to the more recent “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.” Other possible research questions include:

  • How have recent trends in evolutionary science, such as the rise of evolutionary developmental biology and other sciences associated with the so-called Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, influenced historical narratives of Darwinism?
  • How have recent trends in the history of evolution, such as Evelleen Richards’s work on sexual selection or Piers Hale’s on the politics of late nineteenth-century Darwinism, changed our understanding of what might be meant by the Darwinian Revolution? Related to this, how have these recent historiographical frames influenced our understanding of the contemporary state of evolutionary science?
  • What is the relationship between the “non-Darwinian Revolution” and the “Darwinian Revolution”? And how does the non-Darwinian Revolution’s reframing of the history of evolution reflect the history of which it is itself a part?
  • How have evolutionary scientists situated their own discoveries and advancements within an imagined history of evolution, or a particular interpretation of the Darwinian (or non-Darwinian) Revolution?

As these questions represent just a handful of possible workshop topics, participants are encouraged to imagine and propose other ways in which the broader theme of the workshop – namely, the interplay between the development of the science of evolution and its historical representations – can be understood.

Proposals for individual papers for Imagining the Darwinian Revolution: The Place of History in Science are due by 1 November 2018 and must be submitted via the Conference Submission Form.

For inquiries relating to this workshop, please email Ian Hesketh.

  • 2019 ISIH Conference

    2019 ISIH Conference

    #ISIH2019 will take place 5-7 June 2019 at the University of Queensland.