America's Darwin: Darwinian Theory and U.S. Culture by Tina Gianquitto

By Tina Gianquitto

While a lot has been written concerning the effect of Darwin’s theories on U.S. tradition, and numerous scholarly collections were dedicated to the technology of evolution, few have addressed the explicit information of Darwin’s theories as a cultural strength affecting U.S. writers. America’s Darwin fills this hole and lines a number severe techniques that learn U.S. textual responses to Darwin’s works.

The students during this assortment signify more than a few disciplines—literature, historical past of technology, women’s stories, geology, biology, entomology, and anthropology. All pay shut realization to the categorical varieties that Darwinian evolution took within the usa, attractive not just with Darwin’s most famed works, akin to On the beginning of Species, but in addition with much less general works, similar to The Expression of the feelings in guy and Animals.

Each contributor considers specific social, cultural, and highbrow stipulations that affected the reception and dissemination of evolutionary idea, from earlier than the booklet of On the beginning of Species to the early years of the twenty-first century. those essays interact with the categorical information and language of a big variety of Darwin’s texts, treating his writings as fundamental resources necessary to comprehending the impression of Darwinian language on American writers and thinkers. This cautious engagement with the texts of evolution allows us to work out the huge issues of its reputation and adoption within the American scene; this technique additionally highlights the ways that writers, reformers, and others reconfigured Darwinian language to fit their person purposes.

America’s Darwin demonstrates the numerous ways that writers and others healthy themselves to a story of evolution whose dominant motifs are contingency and uncertainty. jointly, the authors make the compelling case that the translation of evolutionary thought within the U.S. has continuously shifted relating to winning cultural anxieties.

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In their work on emotion, however, it may be their similar use of thick description that stands out. The vivid specifics of Expression make many passages seem as if they were moments from a Victorian novel. In his discussion of sadness and distress, for example, Darwin speaks generally but with vibrant detail: “Persons suffering from excessive grief often seek relief by violent and almost frantic movements . . but when their suffering is somewhat mitigated, yet prolonged, they no longer wish for action, but remain motionless and passive, or may occasionally rock themselves to and fro.

He who gives way to violent gestures will increase his rage; he who does not control the signs of fear will experience fear in a greater degree; and he who remains passive when overwhelmed with grief loses his best chance of recovering elasticity of mind” (Expression, 359–60). In an earlier chapter, he emphasizes a similar point: “Most of our emotions are so closely connected with their expression, that they hardly exist if the body remains passive” (234). ” Continuing in this piece, “The Gospel of Relaxation,” one of his student lectures from Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals (1899), he puts to practical use the notion that expression amplifies the feeling of an emotion: “Thus the sovereign voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our spontaneous cheerfulness be lost, is to sit up cheerfully, to look round cheerfully, and to act and speak as if cheerfulness were already there.

38 Gregory Eiselein 19. William James, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals, in Writings, 1878 –1899, 826. 20. Ibid. 21. In her now-classic study of Darwin and the nineteenth-century novel, Gillian Beer sees “evolutionary theory [as] first a form of imaginative history” (8) and shows how heavily Darwin relies on narrative, analogy, and metaphor to realize his scientific ideas. See Beer, Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (London: ark, 1983), esp.

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