This is history of evolution come full circle to look anew at Darwin and the revolution that bears his name. Multifaceted, vibrant, and engaging, this volume offers a rich array of scholarship that integrates an impressive spectrum of historical research with a critical understanding of how evolutionary history is created through its representations in the shifting historical, scientific, and popular imaginations.
This volume considers the relationship between the development of evolution and its historical representations by focusing on the so-called 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 Charles Darwin’s singular contribution to natural science. And yet, since at least the 1980s, science historians have moved away from traditional “great man” narratives to focus on the collective role that previously neglected figures have played in formative debates of evolutionary theory. Darwin, they argue, was not the driving force behind the popularization of evolution in the nineteenth century. This volume moves the conversation forward by bringing Darwin back into the frame, recognizing that while he was not the only important evolutionist, his name and image came to signify evolution itself, both in the popular imagination as well as in the work and writings of other evolutionists. Together, contributors explore how the history of evolution has been interpreted, deployed, and exploited to fashion the science behind our changing understandings of evolution from the nineteenth century to the present.
Ian Hesketh is associate professor of history at the University of Queensland. He is an intellectual historian and historian of science. He has written extensively on the history of evolution, the history of historical writing, the philosophy of history, and the history of religious thought.