Syllabus bisc 499 University of Southern California Spring 2009 Darwin and His Discontents: a history of Biological Evolution, 1725-1950



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Outline of weekly readings (subject to minor revisions during the semester as necessary):
Week 1 (Monday, Jan. 12): Setting the context: Introduction of class, lecture on precursors to Darwin (especially Jean-Baptiste Lamarck): evolutionary thought, transmutation, and notions of change over time.
Week 2 (Jan. 19): -- no class; MLK Day
Week 3 (Jan. 26): Darwin as scientist; context of Victorian England. Janet Browne, Vol. 1, pp. 1-274 (Chapters 1-11).
Week 4 (Feb. 2): The rest of Browne, Vol. 1, pp. 275-543. (Chapters 12-21)
Week 5 (Feb. 9): Browne, Vol. 2, entire.
Week 6 (Feb. 16): Kuhn, entire, on the structure of scientific revolutions, plus article by Michael Ruse, “The Darwinian Revolution, as seen in 1979 and as seen Twenty-Five Years Later in 2004.” Class meeting at the Huntington Library. Thomas Kuhn’s own research papers arrived at the Huntington as part of a larger acquisition in the Fall of 2006, and we will do some archival work in that collection to better understand his thinking and work.
Week 7 (Feb. 23): Diversity, taxonomy, and common descent: Mayr, pp. 1-534 (Chapters 1-11). Also, turn in proposal for final paper. It doesn’t have to be much; if it’s not detailed enough to be of potential use to you as an educational tool, I’ll let you know. GUEST LECTURER: David Archibald, Vertebrate paleobiologist at SDSU, and nationally-renowned Darwin expert.
Week 8 (Mar. 2): Inheritance and genetics: Mayr, pp. 535-858 (Chapters 12-20).
Week 9 (Mar. 9): Darwin, Origin of Species (entire). Class meeting at the Huntington Library.

Week 10 (Mar. 16): -- NO CLASS; Spring break


Week 11 (Mar. 23): Desmond & Moore, pp. 1-300 (Chapters 1-19)
Week 12 (Mar. 30): Desmond & Moore, pp. 301-678 (Chapters 20-44)
Week 13 (Apr. 6): Supplemental reading/s to be assigned. Will likely include Stephen Jay Gould’s Ontogeny and Phylogeny, depending on the biology backgrounds of the students.
Week 14 (Apr. 13): Supplemental reading/s to be assigned
Week 15 (Apr. 20): Supplemental articles from the Journal of the History of Biology
Week 16 (Apr. 27): No readings; work on your papers!
Week 17 (May 4): Final paper due.





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