ARTICLES: Darwin on Stage & Darwin in Japan

From the Journal of Victorian Culture (15:1, April 2010):

Darwin’s Flinch: Sensation Theatre and Scientific Looking in 1872

Tiffany Watt-Smitha

Abstract This article explores the relationship between Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (London: Murray, 1872) and the debates surrounding audiences of sensation theatre. It takes as its starting point a flinch performed by Darwin in a self-experiment at London Zoological Gardens. Darwin’s flinch combined the act of scientific observation with a self-consciously staged emotional gesture. In the 1860s and early 1870s, the passionate and demonstrative audiences of sensation plays were similarly understood to watch themselves feeling. In this economy of emotional surfaces, actors and audience were caught up in unsettling relations between outwards expression and the remote landscape of interior feeling. Entangled in this theatrical instability, Darwin’s scientific observation reflected broader cultural concerns about the reliability of the emotional body. Thus the article offers Darwin’s Expression as an unusual but nonetheless suggestive artefact of theatrical spectatorship in 1872, while also contributing to recent debates about the history of objectivity and its supposedly unemotional and restrained scientific observer. It argues that the technique of self-conscious emotional spectatorship, shared by Darwin and theatre audiences, constituted a distinctive model of late Victorian emotion and visuality, in which communities of spectators were also spectators of themselves.

From Intellectual History Review (19:2, July 2009):

Alien Science, Indigenous Thought and Foreign Religion: Reconsidering the Reception of Darwinism in Japan

Kuang-chi Hunga

First paragraph Beginning in 1877, the American zoologist, Edward S. Morse (1837-1925), initiated a series of lectures on Darwin and his theory at the Tokyo Imperial University. As a former student of Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), a prominent anti-Darwinist at Harvard University in Boston, Morse nevertheless sparked a wave of enthusiasm for Darwinism in Japanese society. In the years to come, Morse was held in great esteem as a cultural hero. Not only was he invited to give talks in a variety of institutions, from the Ministry of Education to public or private clubs, but also this American zoologist was awarded with numerous honours and recognitions. Morse’s influence persisted even after his return to the United States in 1879. In 1883, Morse’s draft lectures were translated by his student, Ishikawa Chiyomatsu (1868-1935), under the title The Evolution of Animals (Dōbutsu shinkaron). In the history of how evolutionism was accepted in Japan, The Evolution of Animals is the fourth book-length work to be published. Nevertheless, in terms of influence and subsequent impact, Morse’s work is probably the first of its kind to draw people’s attention specifically to Charles Darwin (1809-1882), not just to Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). With hindsight, it is even possible that Morse’s elaboration on Darwinism contributed to the publication of Darwin’s works in Japan. In 1881, three years after Morse’s departure, The Descent of Man was translated into The Ancestor of Man (Jinsoron). Fifteen years later, the Japanese version of On the Origin of Species was completed and published by Shigen Seibutsu. Since then, the translation of Darwin’s works has developed into an industry. As Eikoh Shimao puts it, ‘no western scientist’s works have been translated into so many Japanese versions as Darwin’s. No language seems to have produced more different versions of On the Origin of Species than Japanese’.

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