Scientific Theory and Social Construct

A Feit Interdisciplinary Seminar

IDC 4050: 3 seminar hours; 3 credits
Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-10:45 AM
Spring 1995

The course will be led by Gary Hentzi (English), Susan Tenenbaum (Political Science) and John Wahlert (Natural Sciences) The Origin of Species, the Descent of Man, the survival of the fittest, sexual selection-out lives are deeply permeated by concepts that have their origins in Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. This course will examine Darwin's theory of evolution both as " cience" and as a current in the history of ideas that has shaped artistic endeavor and social argument. Questions to be considered include: What did Darwin actually write, and how does it differ from arguments about man and animals, race and progress, society and individuals that are attributed to him by many? How applicable are Darwin's original ideas today? What is the latest scientific evidence about evolution? Why are so many people using his name in discussions about IQ, race, and achievement? How have the creators of literature received his ideas, and how do these ideas appear in poetry, novels, and film? Is there a Darwinian perspective on welfare reform, criminal justice, economic regulation, and foreign policy?


Professors:Gary Hentzi, English, Room 758, 18th St., 387-1781
Susan Tenenbaum, Political Science, Room 1412, 18th St., 387-1669
John H. Wahlert, Natural Sciences, Room 506, 17 LEX, 387-1234
Porter, D. M., and P. W. Graham, eds. 1993. The Portable Darwin. N. Y., Viking Penguin Books.
Forster, E. M. 1993. Howards End. Barnes and Noble Classics.
Suggested paper topics

2/06Darwin Biography; the Darwin CD ROM (JW)
2/8Origin (assigned reading) (JW)
2/15Origin continued (JW) [Monday schedule]
2/22Intellectual Background (ST & GH)
2/27Intellectual Background (ST & GH)
3/01Tennyson (GH)
3/06Edmund Gosse: Father and Son (xerox) (GH)
3/08Religion in Darwin's day; Huxley & Clergy - Michael Calabria
Dissemination and selling of Darwin's ideas (JW)
3/13Creationism (Inherit the Wind film) roundtable discussion
3/15Creationism as a political movement (ST)
3/20Social Darwinism (T. Malthus & H. Spencer) (ST)
3/22Andrew Carnegie (ST)
3/27Howards End (GH)
3/29Howards End (GH)
4/03Contemporary restatements of Social Darwinism (Murray, Dawkins, & Gilder) (ST)
4/05Biology of race (JW)
4/10Racial theories and Darwinism (ST)
4/12Kipling (GH)
No classes
4/24Foreign Policy and Immigration Policy (ST)
TERM PAPERS due (8-10 pp 2sp.)
4/26The Origin revisited: classification and phylogeny (JW)
5/01What is the status of Darwin's theory today? - Mayr (New Synthesis) (JW)
5/03What do people think Darwin said but he didn't? - Bowler (JW)
5/08Student Presentations (The Woman Question)
5/10Student Presentations
5/15Student Presentations
5/17Student Presentations
5/18Student Presentations


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Last updated 30 December 1998 (JHW)