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HIST229 Darwin versus God? Science and Society, 1789-1914

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A critical examination of the history of the natural and social sciences in cultural and religious context from the Enlightenment to the First World War.

This paper examines the revolution in the natural sciences spearheaded by Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species' (1859). We begin by tracing important interconnections between science and empire during the 18th century before focusing on the rise of evolutionary theorising in Britain and Europe during the 19th century. Taking a contextualist approach to the history of science, we explore the political, intellectual, racial, ethical and religious controversies that erupted after 1859 in Britain, Europe and New Zealand.

Paper title Darwin versus God? Science and Society, 1789-1914
Paper code HIST229
Subject History
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2021, expected to be offered in 2022 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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One 100-level HIST paper or 54 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Teaching staff
Associate Professor John Stenhouse

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, any edition.

In addition, course materials will be made available electronically.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Communication, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will

  • Gain a historical understanding of the origins, course and consequences of the rise of evolutionary theory during the 19th century
  • Learn to engage critically with the secondary literature in the 'Darwin industry'
  • Learn to assess sometimes conflicting interpretations from interdisciplinary perspectives

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Not offered in 2021, expected to be offered in 2022

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system