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’.

Richard Milner’s “Charles Darwin: Live & In Concert” on Book TV

Richard Milner as Darwin

Richard Milner as Darwin

Book TV on CSPAN-2 will air:

… singing Darwinian scholar Richard Milner’s one-man show this Saturday, January 23 at 8 a.m., and Sunday, January 24 at 7 p.m. — taped at CUNY Grad Center in New York. [times are eastern]

Via The Theatrical Tanystropheus. Milner’s website and blog.

Cambridge Trip #3: Darwin in the Field Conference

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This was the first day of the Darwin in the Field conference. You can view the list of speakers and paper titles here. All of them dealt with some repsect with Darwin’s geological work during and soon after the voyage of HMS Beagle. I did not present until the second day. Below are some updates from my Twitter giving little bits from the presentations:

Darwin in the Field: J. Hodge: “The Darwinian Revolution” created in ’40s w/ Modern Synthesis, finches not “Darwin’s” til 1947 #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: J. Hodge: Darwin’s brain itself is a material object (hands-on work AND brain-on work) #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Endersby: Hooker: Evolution shouldn’t change how botanists treat species, b/c stable in human life time #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Endersby: Being philosophical more important to JD Hooker than being professional #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Rudwick: Darwin concedes Glen Roy theory: “I give up the ghost” #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Rudwick: don’t deify Darwin, for canonization is the death of history #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Pearson: Darwin’s igneous theory similar in ways to natural selection (liquid line of descent) #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: Howe: Brit. Geological Survey specimen numbering system very much like Darwin’s #darwinfest

Darwin in the Field: van Wyhe: Darwin has a self portrait in his Beagle notebooks – and it’s a stick man! #darwinfest

thanks John van Wyhe for a signed copy of his book “Darwin in Cambridge.” Very generous, and a neat way to remember Darwin 2009 #darwinfest

John van Wyhe plans to dispel myth that Darwin was simply a gentleman companion to Fitzroy #darwin #darwinfest

got a tour of “Darwin the Geologist” exhibit at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge – very nice! Love the old cabinets…#darwinfest #museum

It was great meeting many of the Darwin historians whose works I’ve read or at least whose books sit on my shelf: Peter Bowler, Sandra Herbert, David Kohn, M.J.S. Hodge, Martin Rudwick, John van Wyhe, Jim Endersby. A few scientists as well: Brian Rosen, Paul Pearson, Phil Stone, and David Norman. A fellow student: Alistair Sponsel. And from the Sedgwick Museum: Lyall Anderson and Francis Neary.

During the conference, we breaked to watch the premiere performance of Pif-Paf Arts‘ “Under the Floorboards,” a street theater play about Adam Sedgwick and the history of the earth. Corny, yes, but entertaining. Some photos:

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Under the Floorboards, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

When the presentationed ended for the day, the conference organizers treated us to a viewing of the new exhibition at the Sedgwick Museum, “Darwin the Geologist.” I’ll cover the exhibit in another post because I came back to see it again on Monday. But here’s a shot from the viewing:

Viewing of Darwin the Geologist, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Viewing of Darwin the Geologist, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Leaving the conference I spotted this bike outside. It belongs to historian John van Wyhe.

Darwin Fish Bike

Darwin Fish Bike

Saturday evening saw me at a local internet cafe working on my paper and slideshow, since the laptop I brought was not treating me so well.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #2: Finding My WayCambridge Trip #1: Traveling

Cambridge Trip #2: Finding My Way

Friday, July 10, 2009

Once in Cambridge, I found my room in Downing College and took a shower. That was necessary.

Downing College, University of Cambridge

Downing College, University of Cambridge

I decided then to just walk around, to familiarize myself with the area. Here are some shots from that walk:

Parkers Piece, Cambridge, England

Parker's Piece, Cambridge, England

Downing Street, Cambridge

Downing Street, Cambridge

Sign for directions to various museums, Cambridge

Sign for directions to various museums, Cambridge

The Eagle Pub is famed for being the place where geneticists James Watson and Francis Crick announced that they had discovered the secret of life (determined the structure of DNA):

The Eagle Pub, Cambridge

The Eagle Pub, Cambridge

All Saints Church from Christs Pieces, Cambridge

All Saints Church from Christ's Pieces, Cambridge

Walking around I kept my eyes open for places with free wireless access, but couldn’t find any besides a McDonald’s near an outdoor market.

Outdoor Market, Cambridge

Outdoor Market, Cambridge

Karen James (of NHM and The HMS Beagle Project), who was in Cambridge for the entirety of the Darwin Festival (listen to a podcast about her, mine, and Richard Carter’s time at the festival), met me at McDonald’s (we did not eat there), and we embarked to see a few sites around the university. It was a pleasure to meet Karen, having been online friends for a while now – in fact, this was just my second time meeting a fellow science blogger (the first was Anne-Marie while at UNCW back in March).

First up, Christ’s College, where Darwin attended. His room has been restored (the room was closed, but I saw it another day, photos in a later post) and the grounds of the college is now home to a Darwin garden, centered ’round a stunning sculpture of a young Darwin by Anthony Smith:

Young Darwin sculpture by Anthony Smith, Christs College, University of Cambridge

Young Darwin sculpture by Anthony Smith, Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Karen James with young Darwin

Karen James with young Darwin

I really liked the attention to detail in the sculpture (mainly titles on the books – Herschel, Paley, Humboldt) and the addition of a beetle:

An inordinate fondness for beetles

An inordinate fondness for beetles

Christ’s College boasts a variety of all things bearded-Darwin: a plaque at the porter’s lodge entrance, a stained glass window, and an 1883 copy of an 1875 portrait Walter William Ouless:

Darwin plaque at Christs College

Darwin plaque at Christ's College

Darwin stained glass window at Christs College

Darwin stained glass window at Christ's College

Darwin portrait by Walter William Ouless

Darwin portrait by Walter William Ouless

After Christ’s, Karen and I walked through King’s College (we bumped into Daniel Dennett!) and over the River Cam:

Kings College, University of Cambridge

King's College, University of Cambridge

with Daniel Dennett (notice the Darwin fish pin on his jacket!)

with Daniel Dennett (notice the Darwin fish pin on his jacket!)

Punting Boats, the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Punting Boats, the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the River Cam, University of Cambridge

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), the River Cam, University of Cambridge

After lunch for Karen and coffee for me, we went our own ways. I walked around a bit more, then headed back to room to start making sure I was ready to present my paper at the conference.

Pembroke Street, Cambridge

Pembroke Street, Cambridge

Christs College, University of Cambridge

Christ's College, University of Cambridge

Look familiar? This illustration usually accompanies the image section in Darwin biographies:

Engraving of Christ's College, by J. Le Keux after I. A. Bell. Published April 1838.

Engraving of Christ's College, by J. Le Keux after I. A. Bell. Published April 1838.

St. Johns College, University of Cambridge

St. John's College, University of Cambridge

Later I went to see Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, the play commissioned by the Darwin Correspondence Project about the exchanges between Darwin and Asa Gray. Wonderful play, wonderful acting. Dennett was sitting behind me. You can view a performance of it from 2008 here.

Stage for Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, University of Cambridge

Stage for Re:Design at the ADC Theatre, University of Cambridge

The ADC Theatres Bars Featured Cocktail

The ADC Theatre's Bar's Featured Cocktail

That all made for a very long day (even if I hadn’t flown all the previous day). It was time for sleep. I needed to be awake for the first day of the conference on Saturday. And like Karen said in the podcast, this visit was like Darwin Mecca for me. Friday’s tour through Cambridge barely scratched the surface for all the Darwin it had to offer.

You can view all the photos from my trip here, if you feel so inclined.

PREVIOUS: Cambridge Trip #1: Traveling

One-Time Only Play Focusing on Darwin and Emma

From The Wedgwood Family Blog:

Sent to me by Mrs Alison Wedgwood:

“Calling all descendants of Darwin and Wedgwood and friends of Staffordshire Dr Alan Wedgwood (head of the [“Etruria”] branch of the Wedgwood family) has sponsored this play for one showing only at the Wedgwood Museum on 14th June, all about Emma Wedgwood and Charles Darwin and based exactly on their letters. He’s saw it a few months ago and thought it was brilliant.”

BETTER THAN A DOG” : The relationship of CHARLES and EMMA DARWIN (both grand-children of Josiah Wedgwood) dramatically revealed through their letters and journals. Triumph and tragedy, humour and heartache all play their part in this extraordinary love story, which reveals the very private life of the very famous scientist and his sociable, devout wife


“Thrilled the audience ….. incredibly moving” Shropshire Star

“a totally different view of Darwin as loving father and adoring husband, with a great sense of humour” – Shrewsbury Chronicle.

Date & Time

June 14th at 4 pm

Tickets £20 including free entrance to the Wedgwood museum and refreshments.

Blogging Slacker & Cambridge Planner

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. A summer class (independent study reading texts on the history of American science) and my son (see below) keep me busy enough. Right now I am planning a trip to Cambridge, England, in mid-July to present a paper (my Darwin’s seed experiment paper) at the “Darwin in the Field” conference at the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences. This will be my first time traveling outside the U.S. I will hit up plenty of other Darwin-related exhibits/events while there, including the play sponsored by the Darwin Correspondence Project, Re:Design. Is anyone planning to see this play as part of the Cambridge Darwin Festival (July 5-10)? If so, let me know which of the two nights.

As always, you could add my Google Reader shared items feed (RSS) to your reader to keep up with Darwin/evolution content I browse.


Boston University: Charles Darwin in Biography

From BU:

Charles Darwin in Biography: The Lives behind the Origin of Species

May 1, 2009

Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street (PHO Colloquium Room, 9th floor

Free and Open to the Public

Morning Session: 10 a.m.- Noon
Janet Browne, Harvard University, discusses “Is your Darwin, My Darwin?”

Andrew Berry, Harvard University, discusses “Industrious and Persevering Traveler: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Journey”

Afternoon Session: 2 p.m.– 5 p.m.
Richard Milner, American Museum of Natural History, discusses “Darwin, the Unknown”

David Kohn, American Museum of Natural History, discusses “Charles Darwin: to the Greenhouse Born Peter Parnell.”

Panel discussion, 5 p.m.– 6 p.m., entitled “Putting Darwin and Wallace Onstage: Creating ‘Trumpery.” Thomas F. Glick, CAS History, moderator. 

Peter Parnell’s play, “Trumpery,” about Darwin’s relationship with Alfred Russel Wallace, will be playing at BU Theatre, on Thursday April 30, Friday May 1, and Saturday May 2.

For more info:

Center for Philosophy & History of Science

T.J. Kalaitzidis 



The Knife Writing Darwin-Inspired Opera

From Pitchfork:

The Knife Writing Darwin-Inspired Opera

I’ll bake the cake, you round up the candles: November 2009 marks the 150th birthday of Charles Darwin’s epochal evolution text On the Origin of Species. And who better to commemorate the occasion than, okay, the Knife! With an opera??

The piece is set to debut in Copenhagen in November 2009, and takes as its inspiration Darwin’s thoughts on evolution, change, transformation, and mutation.

Tromping on Sacred Ground, a new play about T.H. Huxley

From Spreeblog:

Tromping on Sacred Ground

Going back to the Victorian era, the Alleyway’s Mazumdar New Play Competition winner Tromping on Sacred Ground by Suzanne C. Dickie offers a biographical portrait of Henry Huxley, one of the first scientists to lend support to Charles Darwin after publication of Origin of the Species.

“This play is a romance of ideas, a tribute to the joy of thought turned to action turned to social impact. In 1860, the Church Of England refuted Darwin’s theories of evolution, and influenced public opinion against them. The play shows that Huxley and his circle responded by suggesting the human mind was the greatest creation of God and the greatest human sin was not to exercise the mind,” explains director Thomas Dooney.

“Huxley was a remarkable scientist and thinker in his own right. The play traces the relationship between Huxley, his wife Netty, a poet, and their friend, and Huxley’s longtime professional colleague John Tyndall. These are three especially vivid historical figures who dispel the stereotype of Victorian narrow-mindedness.”

Dooney notes that “this is not a bombastic debate on the subject of creationism vs. evolution.” He says it “is a gentle, thoughtful play about carrying through despite life’s challenges. That in a life graced with genius and important work, one must also sustain friendships, maintain a family; one must love and be loyal and be true to oneself…and to be ready for change.”

With a new play like this, Dooney says “the director’s function as liaison between the operative forces–the script, the artists and the audience–is heightened. …it is a particular challenge to direct a premiere script…a challenge and a privilege and a responsibility.”

Casey Denton, Kelly Beuth, and Christopher Parada star as the principals. Tromping on Sacred Ground runs November 6-22.

Great Scientists Speak Again: Charles Darwin

Embedding is disabled for these videos, so here are parts 1, 2, and 3 for “Great Scientists Speak Again: Charles Darwin” (1973). I recently purchased on eBay an interesting little book by biologist Richard Marshall Eakin, who you will see in the videos, of UC Berkeley, Impersonating Great Scientists. The eBay seller offered this information about the book:

Zoology 10, the ‘culture’ course for non-majors was also one of his favorite offerings, a course where he could mix science with favorite homespun philosophical thoughts. It was here that one day in 1970 he succumbed to the temptation to invite William Harvey, a famous scientist who had discovered the circulation of the blood in 1628, to be a guest lecturer. Eakin then disguised himself as that Elizabethan scholar and delivered a lecture, much of it in Harvey’s own words. Imagine the doubts, the anguish, the fear that must have haunted him before that first performance. Would he be laughed off the stage? One rude cynical student could have shattered the whole scene. Mercifully, the happening was a spectacular success and led to other ‘guest lectures’ in which he impersonated such eminent scientists as Gregory Mendel, William Beaumont, Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur, and Hans Spemann. These performances were repeated again and again, not only in Zoology 10, but in guest appearances before appreciative audiences in many parts of the country, and were published in a marvelous little booklet entitled Great Scientists Speak Again (1975). It is little wonder that he was awarded the first Senior Citation for Distinguished Teaching (in 1963), the ASUC Award for Outstanding Teaching (1968), and finally, upon his retirement in 1977, the prestigious Berkeley Citation.

Eakin died in 1999 (New York Times: Richard Eakin Dies at 89; Did His Lectures in Costume). You can also watch this video and others of Eakin’s scientist portrayals on this Berkeley lecture website.

THEATER: "You Should Ask Wallace"

From Wales Online:

Historic innovator’s work in new play
Jul 3 2008 by Rachel Moses, Neath Guardian
DARWIN’S right-hand-man is being honoured by Neath-based Theatr Na N’og in a play at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Alfred Russel Wallace was born in Usk, but spent much of his life in Neath and the Vale of Neath. Wallace used his skills all around the area as a civil engineer and architect, and designed a building for the Mechanics’ Institute of Neath. Commemoration of his life and works began on July 1, which was declared Wallace Day.

The celebrations are in honour of the 150th anniversary of the presentation by the two naturalists to the Linnaean Society of their ground-breaking paper The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. The world premiere of the specially commissioned Theatre Na N’og one-man show, You Should Ask Wallace, will be performed by Ioan Hefin. The play was written and directed by Geinor Styles who had been waiting for a chance to do a play about Wallace. She said: “It was just a coincidence which is quite apt for this particular story. “While we were doing a production down at the gardens, they approached us and asked us, and I thought, this is the way I get to do a production about him. “We just went ahead and started to create the production, because it’s 150 years since the paper was presented.”

Performances will take place until July 5, with a number of performances throughout the day.
The attraction will also dedicate a garden to the naturalist which explores the world of plant genetics. The curving pathways will reflect the shape of DNA, and examples of plant mutations and selectively bred food crops and plants will feature. An outdoor exhibition about the naturalist’s life will also take place in The Courtyard Gallery.
Performances: Wednesday, July 2, 10.45am and noon for schools only; Thursday, July 3, and Friday, July 4, 10.45am, noon and 1.15pm performances for schools, 3pm performance for garden visitors; and, Saturday, July 5, noon, 1.15pm and 3pm performances for garden visitors.

More information at George’s website, and from The Beagle Project Blog: It’s “Wallace Week” at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Dispersal Event 4/20/2008

Lots of Darwin and related material hanging out in my inbox and feeds.

A good name for an elementary school…

A comparison of Darwin and Darkwing Duck (and a dis at the name Beagle).

A revival of Charles Darwin himself – and his thoughts about The H.M.S. Beagle Project – over at Science Creative Quarterly.

Two pieces of interest from the latest newsletter for the History of Science Society: a write-up about paleontologist and historian of science Martin J.S. Rudwick, author of Bursting the Limits of Time and the forthcoming Worlds Before Adam; and a photo essay about British empire and verticality by Michael S. Reidy (who happens to be my advisor).

A list of Wallace-related events in 2008 at The Alfred Russel Wallace Memorial Fund.
Philly Celebrates the Year of Evolution. And PZ comments.

From the Listserv for the International Societyfor the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology:

1. Call for papers: History of Psychiatry Special Issue: ‘A Hundred Years of Evolutionary Psychiatry (1872-1972).’ This Special Issue seeks to explore the history of evolutionary accounts of mental disorders. For convenience, it will focus on the period 1872-1972 marked by the publication of Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals and Tinbergen’s Early Childhood Autism – An Ethological Approach, respectively. Deadline for proposals: 1 November 2008.

2. The Darwin Correspondence Project will award a prize of £1000 for the best student essay on a specific topic in the field of science and religion. The essay should use materials from the Darwin correspondence, but need not be based exclusively on such materials. The prize essay will be published on the Darwin Correspondence Project’s website. Deadline for submissions: 1 June 2008.

7. Cambridge University Press has just published Elliott Sober’s book Evidence and Evolution — The Logic Behind the Science. Sober investigates general questions about probability and evidence and shows how the answers he develops to those questions apply to the specifics of evolutionary biology.

Emily Ballou – The Darwin Poems at the Science and Literature Reading Group.

The latest Quarterly Review of Biology has a series of articles on science and philosophy.

Darwin on Pure Scientific Research at Siris.

Look, ma! I can quote-mine historians too! at The Panda’s Thumb.

desperate men (street theater) present Darwin and the Dodo in the UK.

Write in Darwinian style (no, not like this, but with this).

Agassiz and Thoreau at A Natural Curiosity.

Browse evolution/Darwin themed cartoons at CartoonStock.

Barnacle Goose Paperworks on The Barnacle Goose Tree (some natural history).

Science and Photography at James Deavin Blog.

Carolus Linnaeus; Floral Clocks at Ysebaileybrooke’s Weblog.

New website: John Davidson — The Legacy of a Canadian Botanist.

IPY Blogs: Photography Comes to the Polar Regions–Almost.

A quick review of Measuring the World at The Geo Factor.

From the HIST-NAT-HIST listserve:

Intute: Health and Life Sciences has just launched a free online resourceguide – the first in a new “Focus on …” series. “Focus on … Conservation” aims to provide useful, detailed, high quality sources of information, particularly for students in Higher and Further Education. The guide may be freely distributed and copied for educational purposes only, and we would welcome comments and feedback. The guide is available on the Intute website at:

And finally, Adriann Thysse, of the Mystery of Mysteries (formerly Evolving with Darwin) blog, has been reviewing On the Origin of Species as a personal learning experience in a multitude of posts:

14. Laws of Variation I – Effects of Use and Disuse
13. Natural Selection VII – Divergence of Character
12. Natural Selection VI – Circumstances
11. Natural Selection V – The Benefits of Sex
10. Natural Selection IV – Examples
9. Natural Selection III – Sexual Selection
8. Natural Selection II
7. Natural Selection I
6. Struggle for Existence II
5. Struggle for Existence I
4. Variation under Nature
3. Variation under Domestication
2. The Origin of Species
1. Genesis