Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: Sept. 6; Last Class: Oct. 25.
Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species is clearly one of the most influential scientific texts ever published. It is also one of the most accessible to the general reader. Everyone has an inkling of what Darwin’s theory is about, but few people have read more than a few selected chapters of the Origin, if that . In this course we will read the first (1859) edition in its entirety, at the pace of two chapters per week. The Origin of Species draws upon a wealth of Darwin’s own experiences and research, as well as that of many others, and is both a snapshot of the state of the life and earth sciences in the mid-nineteenth century and a window into the workings of a keen, logical, and perceptive mind. A willingness to dig into the details is a more important prerequisite for the class than a familiarity with the sciences. The background and context of Darwin’s examples, concepts, and arguments will be supplied as needed through brief lectures, slides, and supplementary readings.